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Smith steers clear of chokers tag

Moments after Shahid Afridi knocked his team out of the tournament, Smith tried his best to stay clear of the chokers tag, instead blaming the defeat on Pakistan's superior cricket. Arjun Sen reports.

cricket Updated: Jun 20, 2009 00:22 IST
Arjun Sen

South African teams have always been a step ahead of the rest in two things - use of technology and fluffing their lines.

It was no different in this World T20, either. They had planned their calculated assault on the title much before the tournament kicked off. And messed it horribly up when they were closer than ever.

It must be hard being the South African captain after your team has lost yet another major semifinal, but it's become an all too familiar feeling for Graeme Smith now.

Moments after Shahid Afridi knocked his team out of the tournament, Smith tried his best to stay clear of the chokers tag, instead blaming the defeat on Pakistan's superior cricket.

“It's disappointing and sad to leave the tournament at this stage, but we played some great cricket throughout. Pakistan were better on the day,” Smith said.

He singled out Afridi as the major difference. “He had a great game with bat and ball. His four overs brought Pakistan back into the game. He got a couple of wickets and we lost our way after that. Pakistan brought their A-game to the park today, and were better.”

Coming into the semifinals, the Proteas were the only side not to have lost a game -in the warm ups or the main tournament, playing some great cricket en route. “The level we've played at in this tournament, we probably deserve to be in the final, but that is not how it works. We were beaten by a Pakistan side that was better than us, and we've got to acknowledge that,” Smith said.

When South Africa look back at this game, the thing that'll probably raise questions will be Jacques Kallis and J.P. Duminy's rather slow scoring. Neither batsman is exactly a power hitter, choosing to keep the singles ticking over and waiting for the boundary ball. On Thursday, though, it didn't quite work. The 61 runs they put on may have taken South Africa closer to the target, but the rate at which those runs came proved fatal.

The question of chokers had to be raised at some point, and when it was, Smith said: “Every time we lose a major game, this term will be raised. The guys know about it. This tournament was a knockout from the word go, and if you look at it, I think the other teams choked in the SuperEights.”