If there was one South African side that had entered an ICC tournament as favourites     since Hansie Cronje and Bob Woolmer   s 1996 and 1999 batches, that is     it was this    Getty Images
If there was one South African side that had entered an ICC tournament as favourites since Hansie Cronje and Bob Woolmer s 1996 and 1999 batches, that is it was this Getty Images

South Africa entered the ICC Champions Trophy as the top-ranked ODI side. Kagiso Rabada was ranked No. 1 in the list of ODI bowlers. He had replaced Imran Tahir at the top, pushing the leggie to the second spot. AB de Villiers was perched comfortably at the top of the batting table. Quinton de Kock was at fourth, Faf du Plessis at sixth, Hashim Amla at tenth. If there was one South African side that had entered an ICC tournament as favourites since Hansie Cronje and Bob Woolmer s 1996 and 1999 batches, that is it was this. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs South Africa, ICC Champions Trophy 2017 – Match 11 at The Oval

Unfortunately, a sense of d j vu prevailed as South Africa crashed out of the tournament following a defeat against India in a must-win match. India played good cricket, but more than that, South Africa imploded and imploded spectacularly. They proved yet again they can crumble with such clinical efficiency in crunch matches that no external force can prevent them from losing.

In the 1996 World Cup they were knocked out on a questionable selection policy (Pat Symcox was picked ahead of Allan Donald). In 1999 they had a brain-fade when they needed 1 to score off 4 balls. In 2003 they miscalculated the Duckworth-Lewis numbers. In 2007 they went over-aggressive against Australia. In 2011 they went over-defensive against New Zealand. In 2015 they lost the plot on field, bowling loose balls and fielding terribly. Between that, in the 2002 Champions Trophy they went into an inexplicable shell and lost; and goodness knows what they did in the 2007 World T20.

Everything they had tried had succeeded, but that did not stop prevent them from experimenting with new methods of failing. This time they tried run outs; it worked.

Review

South Africa started with a win, but there were hiccups. Amla scored a serene 103 against Sri Lanka. Du Plessis (75) helped him put on 145 for the second wicket. With JP Duminy joining in with some lusty shots down the order, they piled up 299 for 8. SA batting needs to find momentum in CT 2017, feels Graeme Smith

However, the bowling Rabada, Wayne Parnell, and Morne Morkel fell apart when Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga went after them. The first two wickets added 94 in 71 balls. Then Tahir intervened with 4 for 27 and a run out, and Sri Lanka collapsed to 203.

So far, so good. Everyone expected South Africa to push Pakistan aside, especially after the manner in which Pakistan had been thrashed by India.

To be fair to South African, Pakistan showed up in an avatar so contrasting from the India match that any team might have been overrun. Their fast bowlers (Hasan Ali, in particular) bowled yorkers with ridiculous regularity and reverse-swung the ball to glory; the spinners bowled at the right pace and found the right length; and the fielders flung themselves at everything, cutting down boundaries.

South Africa became 118 for 6 before they realised what had hit them. David Miller dug in to play an uncharacteristic innings. He found support from Morris, and yet again, Rabada. Miller batted till the end with an unbeaten 75. South Africa reached 219 for 8.

Their fast bowlers then came at the Pakistanis all guns blazing. They bowled fast, hit the deck, and were not hesitant to slip in the odd bouncer. Morkel took 3 for 18, each of his wickets coming with a short-pitched ball.

However, when rain came down, Pakistan were 119 for 3 after 27 overs; they won by 19 runs on D-L-S method. Hardcore fans argued that South Africa had been robbed by rain, but with 100 to score from 138 balls, it was definitely Pakistan s match to lose. Defeat against PAK put SA under pressure, believes Smith

Then they reached The Oval for the crucial India match. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah started tentatively, as did Amla and de Kock. It was oddly reminiscent of boxers getting each other s measure before a bout.

They reached 76 without loss. They even made it to 116 for 1. Then all went wrong. True, India were disciplined with ball and on field, but that hardly explained the three run outs.

De Villiers went first, in an encore of the 2015 World Cup clash, was run out when Hardik Pandya speared one in to beat his dive.

David Miller and du Plessis raced each other to the striker s end. When Aleem Dar referred the decision to television umpire Richard Illingworth, it was to check which batsman was run out.

And with 9 wickets down, Duminy wanted a second run, called Tahir to the centre of the pitch, and had a long discussion over tea before sending him back: well, I may be exaggerating, but at least it seemed that long.

South Africa were bowled out for 191. This was followed by Amla putting Virat Kohli down. It was a difficult chance, but fielding has always been South Africa s strongest suit. They did try hard, but unlike them, India were in no mood to sprint along the pitch at random moments. Normal cricket saw India through. PAK vs SA, CT 2017, Match 7 Highlights: Proteas’ different outfit, PAK’s spirited efforts & other moments

Marks out of 10

Imran Tahir (1 run at 1, 5 wickets at 16, economy 4.32, 2 catches): 9/10

Tahir turned the Sri Lanka match on its head. He was accurate, and mixed his googlies with his leg-breaks with remarkable ease. Add to that a direct hit. In the other two matches he bowled 10 overs and got a wicket. He could probably have done better but there is so much one man can do with so little support. He gets an extra point for two excellent catches and a run out with a direct throw.

Hashim Amla (154 runs at 51.33, 1 catch): 7/10

While there were demons for other batsmen, Amla seemed to bat on another planet. He failed only once, against Pakistan, and that happened when Imad Wasim did not spin a ball Amla expected him to. He loses half a point for dropping Kohli. Against India he perished just when he was beginning to look dangerous, while his masterpiece against Sri Lanka was a sight for sore eyes.

Morne Morkel (0 run at 0, 5 wickets at 17.40, economy 4.35): 7/10

Morkel s spell at Edgbaston was the last time South African fans had something to cheer about in the tournament. With only 220 to defend, Morkel came out steaming, peppering Pakistan batsmen with a generous helping of short-pitched deliveries, taking them out one by one till rain intervened. He got a wicket in each of the other matches as well, and looked the most threatening of the four fast bowlers.

Faf du Plessis (137 runs at 45.67, 1 catch): 6.5/10

Faf did not actually do much wrong in the tournament. He exploded in a flurry of fours against Sri Lanka before falling to a spectacular catch. He held the innings together against Pakistan before he chopped one on. And he got an excellent off-cutter against India. He loses half a point for being at the non-striker s end when both de Villiers and Miller were run out in the India match.

Quinton de Kock (109 runs at 36.33, 1 catch): 6/10

De Kock got off to three cautious starts. He did get his customary fifty against India, but a lot more was expected of a man of his superlative talent. His scores of 23, 33, and 53 sum up his series: solid starts that amounted to nothing.

JP Duminy (66 runs at 66, economy 4.80, 1 catch): 6/10

Duminy became one of Hasan s three wickets at Edgbaston, but barring that he was never dismissed in the tournament. He launched a furious onslaught in the Sri Lanka match (his 38 came in 20 balls) while he was left stranded against India.

David Miller (94 runs at 47, 1 catch): 5/10

Miller did not exactly fail. It was his gutsy effort that helped South Africa put up a fighting total against Pakistan. He was also cruelly run out against India, and fell while aiming for a big shot in the Sri Lanka match.

Chris Morris (52 runs at 17.33, 2 wickets at 47, economy 4.70): 4/10

Morris bunted a few against Sri Lanka, hung around with Miller against Pakistan, and failed against India. He bowled with pace without much impact, and one of his two wickets was entirely due to an AB-special.

Kagiso Rabada (31 runs at 15.50, 1 wicket at 116, economy 4.83): 3/10

Rabada went flat out for wickets, especially against India, but never got any. His only wicket was of Lasith Malinga. He played a small but crucial innings against Pakistan, but that was it. His time will come: he is too talented a bowler to be dismissed after one ordinary tournament.

AB de Villiers (20 runs at 6.67, 1 catch): 0.5/10

At a personal level this was the nadir of one of the greatest careers in history. Not only did he perish cheaply thrice, but he also fell to ordinary balls every time. He also looked mostly clueless as captain. That half point is testimony to his catch and run out against Sri Lanka.

Andile Phehlukwayo (4 runs at 4, economy 5): 0.5/10

He played one match. Beat Kohli a few times. Kohli hit him for a six. Amla dropped Kohli off him. He gets half a point for troubling Kohli early on.

Wayne Parnell (7 runs at 7, economy 5.64, 2 catches): 0/10

Largely ineffective, Parnell was dropped for the last match. He took two easy catches.