Cricket's global bandwagon camped on the equator as the garden city state of Singapore hosted its third one-day international tournament in five years. India were due to return for the third time but withdrew at the last minute, stating that participation would be inappropriate during the match-fixing crisis. Pakistan, who had played in the first Singapore tournament in April 1996, agreed to step in, while South Africa and New Zealand made their first appearances at the spruced-up Kallang Ground.
South Africa flew in from Melbourne, where they had just completed an indoor one-day series with Australia. They had been travelling since July, when they began their tour of Sri Lanka, but even without star pace bowler Allan Donald, who was playing for Warwickshire, Jonty Rhodes, who had returned home, and injured wicket-keeper Mark Boucher, they romped to victory over Pakistan in the final. Evident throughout was their commitment to prove that they remained a major force in world cricket, despite the eruption of "Hansiegate". Gary Kirsten was easily the player of the tournament, with 191 runs at 95.50; Pakistan's Ijaz Ahmed was the only other batsman to reach three figures. In complete contrast to South Africa, New Zealand had not played since early April and, barely emerged from their winter hibernation, lost both their fixtures.
Pakistan's squad was much depleted. Injury forced out their captain and wicket-keeper, Moin Khan, as well as vice-captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and the explosive fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar. Off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, like Donald, was committed to his English county, while Wasim Akram was taking time out from one-day cricket. They were, moreover, pursued by controversy on and off the field. A day before they boarded their flight to Singapore, Shahid Afridi, Hasan Raza and Atiq-uz-Zaman were reported to have invited girls into their hotel rooms in Lahore. Later, stand-in captain Waqar Younis was accused of tampering with the ball, using his trouser zip during the league match against South Africa, but the ICC referee, Justice Ahmed Ebrahim of Zimbabwe, dismissed the evidence as insufficient for disciplinary action.
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