Choke-hold: A look at South Africa's painful past at ICC events

    The Hawk
    June27/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    South Africa's journey to their first T20 World Cup final marks a historic moment as they shed the "chokers" label, defeating Afghanistan in Tarouba, Trinidad.

    South African player celebration

    New Delhi: South Africa and World Cup semifinals used to be a sporting tragedy of Shakepearean proportions. Not anymore.

    Shedding the unwanted tag of perennial "chokers", the Proteas marched into their maiden T20 World Cup final unbeaten in Tarouba, Trinidad, comfortably beating tournament giant-slayers Afghanistan.

    The triumph wiped off years of heartache and the trauma of being labelled under-performers despite having some of international cricket's biggest names in the line-up.

    PTI takes a look at the Proteas' tormented past when they failed to get over the line at key junctures in global events.

    1. 1992 ODI World Cup semifinal vs Australia
    Not quite a choke but just bad luck. Emerging after 22 years of exile following the end of apartheid in the country, South Africa had everything going for them, their lightening quick bowlers were excelling, their fielders affected sensational run-outs.

    However, in the semifinal, rain came and the equation went from a reasonably gettable 22 off 7 balls to 22 off just one ball, thanks to a miscommunication on their revised target.

    2. 1996 ODI World Cup quarterfinal vs West Indies
    Having won all their group games, Hansie Cronje and his men started firm favourites against West Indies in the quarterfinal. But Brian Lara played an absolute blinder while spinners Roger Harper and Jimmy Adams spun a web to inflict a 19-run defeat on the Proteas.

    3. 1999 ODI World Cup semifinal vs Australia
    Perhaps the most devastating game in South Africa's cricketing history. The semifinal at Edgbaston that turned tournament's best player Lance Klusener into the World Cup's biggest tragic hero.

    Chasing a modest 214, South Africa needed nine off the final over with the final pair at the crease. Klusener smashed the first two balls for fours to level the scores but Allan Donald was run out and the game was tied.

    Australia went through to the final as they had won the previous game between the teams in the super sixes stage.

    4. 2007 ODI World Cup semifinal vs Australia
    South Africa's decision to bat first backfired dramatically as a revered line-up, including the likes of Graeme Smith, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher, was shot out for 149. Australia finished the game off with nearly 20 overs to spare.

    5. 2009 T20 World Cup semifinal vs Pakistan
    The Proteas had defeated New Zealand, England, West Indies and India to reach the last four stage high on confidence. But a miserly spell by Shahid Afridi stopped them as they failed to chase a reasonably decent 150.

    6. 2011 ODI World Cup quarterfinal vs New Zealand
    A line up boasting of AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy failed to chase down a small target of 222 against New Zealand. At 108 for 3 in the 25 overs, South Africa looked set to cruise to victory but then lost next seven wickets for 64 runs.

    7. 2013 Champions Trophy semifinal vs England
    South Africa were reeling at 8/80 before David Miller and Rory Kleinveldt inflated the total to 175. But Jonathan Trott smashed an unbeaten 82 and England won by seven wickets with more than 12 overs spare.

    "I think we did choke in the game. You've got to accept that's what it is. It's definitely a dark mist that hangs over South African cricket in knockout events," coach Gary Kirsten had said after the game.

    8. 2014 T20 World Cup semifinal vs India
    South Africa's semifinal curse continued as they failed to get over the line in another crunch match. This time against a clinical Indian unit.

    9. 2015 ODI World Cup semifinal vs New Zealand
    The tide didn't turn for the Proteas. A golden generation of South Africa cricketers, at their peak, had all bases covered. But were knocked out by New Zealand again in the semifinals stage giving yet another heartbreak.

    10. 2022 T20 World Cup Super 12 vs the Netherlands
    A solitary win away from the semifinals, South Africa choked, suffering a 13-run shock defeat at the hands of a spirited Netherlands side.

    11. 2023 ODI World Cup semifinal vs Australia
    The Proteas galloped through the league stage, even inflicting a massive 134-run defeat on Australia. But when it came to the crucial last four game, South Africa meekly surrendered to the men from Down Under in the semifinals, for their fifth semifinal exit in 50-over World Cups.