| South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs rejoices after his team’s win against Australia in Johannesburg on Sunday. (AFP)
Johannesburg, March 12: Cricket history was made twice in a day when Australia passed the 400-run barrier only to watch in shock as South Africa hit 438 for 9 to win with a ball to spare.
Before Sunday, the record for the highest runs in a one-day innings stood in the name of Sri Lanka who scored 398 for five in 1995-96 against minnows Kenya.
When Australia scored 434 for four, winning the toss and batting first, not even the most die-hard South African fan in the 32,000-strong Wanderers crowd would have dreamt of a finish like this to the five-match series that was evenly poised before today.
“Unrealistic” was the word South Africa captain Graeme Smith used to describe the total of 434 when asked at the presentation ceremony what was on his mind as his team began the reply.
Smith, who had hinted before the decider today that the Australians were “chokers”, set the pace as he opened the batting. He hit 90 but it was Herschelle Gibbs, with 175 in 111 balls, who set up the South African win. His knock put in the shade Australian captain Ricky Ponting’s stunning 164 in 105 balls.
Ponting, who had reacted angrily to Smith’s description of his team as “chokers”, was most gracious in defeat. Jointly awarded man of the match, Ponting declined it, saying Gibbs deserved the honour alone.
“We played really well and got an unbelievably big total but Herschelle and the boys have just been too good,” he said.
Gibbs said: “I think I’m going to keep smiling for a while ' I’ll have no energy tomorrow. Cricket is getting bizarre these days with some of the scores made. We needed something like that from somebody and it happened to be my day today.”
Smith said: “We have got to come back down to earth. We’re all over the moon and want to savour the moment.”
Many records fell on the day, one of these held by India. When India beat Pakistan in Karachi in March 2004, that one-dayer yielded the highest number of runs of 693. Today, 872 were scored.
“I’m sure everybody here today had one of the greatest days of their lives,” Ponting said.
“It was a great game of cricket.”