South Africans hope rain God will balance their account

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Eleven years after the downpours of Sydney washed away its World Cup dream, South Africa was on Tuesday hoping that the rain God would consider balancing its account so that the host can stay in the 2003 tournament. After two defeats and a win, Shaun Pollock's men were casting desperate eyes to the heavy skies over Benoni where Group 'B' rivals West Indies was taking on Bangladesh. After being put into bat, the West Indies reached 244 for nine off its 50 overs with Ricardo Powell top-scoring on 50, Brian Lara hitting 46 and skipper Carl Hooper making 45. "I hope the rains stay away because we need the four points from this game so we can move on," said Lara. "After losing to New Zealand we came into the game feeling pretty nervous and they restricted us early on as the ball was moving about." In the normal scheme of things, the Caribbean kings would brush the Asian minnows aside and gleefully claim the four points, but if the game went on to be rain- affected, points will be split that would keep South Africa in the hunt for one of the three qualifying places on offer for the Super Sixes. South African cricket is still haunted by the semi-final defeat by England in Australia in 1992 when, because of the complex rain rule in operation at the time, it was left with a target of 22 runs off one ball to win. On Tuesday, the splits inside the hosts' squad widened even further when opening batsman Gary Kirsten hit back at those players who hanker for late, disgraced ex- skipper Hansie Cronje. India too is under the cosh having won, unconvincingly, against the Dutch in its first game and then got crushed beneath the Australian juggernaut in its second clash.

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