South Africa’s rendition of the Pitbull hit, Fireball, released before the World T20, was meant to drum up support as they began another journey to win the elusive world crown. The well-made video was received warmly and the players did well not to look out of place.
The same couldn’t be said of their performance on Friday, as they succumbed to the weight of expectations. The defeat to West Indies on Friday, and England’s win over Sri Lanka the day after put them out of contention.
The Proteas have always had a strong build-up to a tournament but lacked killer instinct when it mattered.
Against West Indies, application went for a toss. The pitch was on the slower side, compared to the two encounters at the Wankhede in Mumbai, but their batsmen threw away wickets.
Skipper Faf du Plessis agreed the batting let them down. “Batting was the difference between winning and losing. Especially, in a big game (like Friday’s), you want your big players to stand up. (Among) me, Hashim (Amla) and AB (de Villiers), one needed to anchor the innings and be there,” he said.
While their stutters in the 50-over format are documented, they haven’t done well in T20 either. It was visible in the first edition, which they hosted in 2007. South Africa won the first four matches but succumbed to pressure in the final match of Super Eights.
Chasing 154 against India, they managed 116. The 37-run defeat affected the net run-rate and they finished third in the group behind India and New Zealand. The Men in Blue went on to win the tournament.
South Africa were eliminated in the second round for the fifth time. In 2010 and 2012, they finished at the bottom of their group. They made the semi-finals in 2009 and 2014, but couldn’t progress, losing to Pakistan and India.