South Africa will be desperate to get rid off the chokers tag © Getty Images
As South Africa make one more effort to break the World Cup knockout jinx, Abhijit Banare looks back at all the World Cup knockout matches where South Africa always found themselves on the wrong end of the result.
Every World Cup, one of the most discussed subjects include whether South Africa will get away from their habit of choking. It’s not just the fans but the cricketers as well, have a huge mental fight to shrug off the past records which only gets heavier on them every World Cup. South Africa, till date have bowed out in the knockout stage of the World Cup — five times in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and once in Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). Below is a recap of South Africa’s horrendous record in knockouts of the World Cup. Each occasion is historic in its own way. And we start with the best of the Duckworth-Lewis disaster.
1. Semi-final, 1992 World Cup vs England
Definitely one of the most unfortunate moments in a World Cup for which South Africa can never be blamed. Famously called as the ’22-run one ball match’, it was an opportunity gone begging for South Africa thanks to 12 minutes of rain and some strange compulsions of the broadcasters. The remaining target revised to 22 from seven looked like an exciting contest. But to the bewilderment of batsmen Brian McMillan and David Richardson, the score was revised to 22 from one ball. And all this, despite having one reserve day for the match! England had posted 252 in 45 overs. In reply, South Africa were left stranded at 232. The records may show the Proteas losing by 19 runs but the scorecard can’t describe how ridiculous the chase got for South Africa eventually.
2. Quarterfinal, 1996 World Cup vs West Indies
Yet another 19-run choke for South Africa. It was a tournament where West Indies had grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons off the field and their performances coming in to the tournament gave no promise of a solid show in the World Cup hosted in the subcontinent. But then a majestic Brian Lara defied all odds to take advantage of some poor selection from South Africa. Apart from Shivnarine Chanderpaul‘s 54, it was all Lara’s magic scoring 111 in 94 balls smashing 16 boundaries. Chasing 265, South Africa faltered from 186 for three to 198 for seven thereby costing themselves of one more opportunity to make a mark in the World Cup. They would have faced Australia in the semi-finals, but they decided to keep that clash for the next World Cup which is certainly one of the most dramatic cricketing moments in history.
3. Semi-Final, 1999 World Cup vs Australia
If Ravi Shastri was commentating in this match, he would have yelled ‘choked and choked hard‘. It was a brainfreeze moment for South Africa. Hansie Cronje and every South African looked in disgust to what happened. 213 was the target for the Proteas. And with handy contributions from openers and the middle order, they were getting close to the target despite some Shane Warne brilliance, who bagged four wickets. South Africa needed 16 from the last 10 balls when the penultimate wicket fell. It was all nervous moments for both camps but the Proteas still had a chance with big-hitter Lance Klusener batting. And Klusener didn’t disappoint as he hammered two boundaries on the first two deliveries of Damien Fleming bowling the final over with the Proteas needing nine. With one needed from the four balls, the match was in their pocket but the next two deliveries were the most dreadful for any South African cricket fan. Klusner hit towards mid-on where an alert Darren Lehmann almost run-out Allan Donald. On the next ball, Klusner mistimed but called for a tight single. But Donald was busy watching the ball and took as much time to react as Steve Bucknor’s leg-before decisions. By the time he made an effort to reach the striker’s end, the stumps were dislodged and Australia‘s wild celebrations started. Despite the match being tied, Australia went through to the final as they were placed at a better position in the Super Six Stage.
4. Semi-final, ICC World Cup 2007 vs Australia
The shortest of all chokes in the list. Within an hour of play, Glen McGrath and Shaun Tait were all over the Proteas. From seven for no loss, they were 27 for five in 10 overs. South Africa still had the best batting line-up to dislodge the pace attack of the defending champions consisting of McGrath, Tait, Nathan Bracken and Shane Watson. In a pressure match, recovering from 27 for five wasn’t going to be an easy task. Herschelle Gibbs and Justin Kemp made notable contributions as South Africa crawled and were bowled out for 149. Australia cantered home with a seven-wicket win.
5. Semi-final, ICC World T20 2009 vs Pakistan
Yet again, walking in to an ICC tournament tagged as favourites. Moreover, the Proteas were unbeaten coming in to the semi-finals against Pakistan. With a fine bowling department in the form of Dale Steyn, Albie Morkel, Jacques Kallis and Roeloef van der Merwe, South Africa had the attack to restrict the opposition. They put up a disciplined performance as Pakistan, who had opted to bat found it difficult to carry on the momentum of a brisk start provided by Kamran Akmal. But those were days when Shahid Afridi could still appear more responsible with the bat. His half-century helped Pakistan post 149 and then with the ball, he strangled the Proteas along with Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul. Apart from Kallis, the rest stuttered and failed to plan the innings as South Africa fell short by just seven runs.
6. Quarterfinal, ICC World Cup 2011 vs New Zealand
This was just a revised version of a classic choke. The Kiwis once again tagged as the underdogs of the tournament, and the Proteas once again had a strong side. It was supposed to be an easy affair for South Africa. But what followed in the modest chase of 221 was nothing short of a comedy of errors. Cruising along at 108 for two, a fine catch in the deep by Jacob Oram to dismiss Kallis highlighted the beginning of an entertaining evening. In a span of 32 runs, the Proteas had lost the cream of their batting with five wickets lost. This included some harakiri shots and run-outs as South Africa were reeling at 132 for seven. There was no looking back from there on for South Africa as they fell in to the chokers tag, bowled out for 172.
Well, we did the task of recapping all the knockout matches in World Cups where South Africa choked, time for you to decide which among them was the worst. As I said earlier, each match had its own share of history and records.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)