CricInfo at World Cup 1999
[The ICC Cricket World Cup - England 1999]


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Sunday 23rd May

Pakistan v Australia
Kenya v India

Yet another top day's entertainment as Pakistan take on Australia in a scintillating game packed with non-stop action, excitement and incident. Despite a poor start to the tournament and a shock loss to New Zealand, the Aussies engineer a brilliant run chase after Inzamam's superlative 88, but just fail to reach the Pakistani total.

At the death, the game is spoiled by incredible scenes with a madcap, premature pitch invasion which won't have done Steve Waugh's heart rate any good at all. Amid scenes of absolute chaos, the Pakistani spectators battle for stumps, bails and any souvenir they can feasibly lay their hands on - and players leaving the field would be well advised to check that they still possess the requisite number of digits, limbs, appendages etc.

There's more controversy when TV commentator Tony Greig spots Shoaib Akhter "Working on the ball". Pakistani ball tampering allegations are like Insurance Salesmen, you think you've seen the last of them, but they always eventually resurface and never truly seem to go away. Still in Tail-Ender's experience, bowlers should have a little bit of licence to work with the ball, the game is usually so loaded in the batsman's favour that we've got to give something back to the long-suffering pie throwers. Still given the boomerang qualities of the Duke used in this tournament, if the allegations are indeed true, what can Pakistan be trying to achieve? If the Duke swings any more, it will be starting its own wife-swapping club.

Meanwhile back in the real world, Australia's campaign if not completely off the rails, appears to be heading down a siding towards no qualification city. The reason for the Aussie's malaise seems unclear, some are putting it down to a punishing schedule which has seen them on the road for the past six months, while there's even been the odd murmur from disgruntled Pom Bashers who have been heard to mutter darkly into their beer that skipper Steve Waugh is simply "No Mark Taylor." The Kangaroo Worriers now face a titanic encounter with the West Indies in their final game in the battle for that vital third qualification slot in group B. Still even with their awful start, in Tail-Ender's experience it would be a brave man who writes off the Men from Down Under prematurely.

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