ICC Champions Trophy: South Africa’s common exit factor - rain, run outs & India
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ICC Champions Trophy: South Africa’s common exit factor - rain, run outs & India

South Africa cricket team, the world No.1 ODI side, once again confounded cricket fans as they exited a major ICC tournament and continued their silverware drought, losing to Indian cricket team on Sunday to exit the ICC Champions Trophy 2017

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 12, 2017 21:31 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Champions Trophy 2017,ICC Champions Trophy,South Africa cricket team
South Africa cricket team's Christopher Morris expresses his angst as they struggled to get the Indian wickets during their ICC Champions Trophy 2017 match at The Oval, London, on Sunday.(Getty Images)

South Africa cricket team and ICC tournament exits: It is the stuff of folklore. It is a situation that has confounded cricket experts, fans and everyone who follows the game. No one has been able to find the exact answer to cricket’s most lingering conundrum, why South Africa fail dramatically in ICC events?

The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 was no different. When they were confronted with a pressure situation, they choked. The ‘C’ word has been associated with South Africa since 1992. The choke syndrome is laced with several sub-plots. A bad collapse, rain, Duckworth-Lewis and panic are some of the factors.

The final league game against Indian cricket team at The Oval on Sunday involved all the sub-plots. Two crucial run-outs of AB de Villiers and David Miller, a sub-par batting performance and an insipid bowling display. The result: South Africa suffered an eight-wicket thrashing and were knocked out.

Following the match, the jokes on South Africa’s choke did the rounds. However, a closer look at South Africa’s exit in ICC tournaments reflects three common factors. They are Duckworth-Lewis, run outs and India.

Rain - South Africa’s enemy

South Africa were eliminated by India at The Oval, but the seeds of their exit were sown in Edgbaston against Pakistan. An inspired bowling performance by Pakistan restricted the Proteas to 219. Morne Morkel picked up two wickets in one over to give some hope but South Africa failed to capitalise. When rain came, Pakistan were 119/3 in 27 overs. The match was called off and Pakistan won by 19 runs via Duckworth-Lewis.

Once again, South Africa were at the wrong end of D/L calculations. In 2003, in the World Cup match against Sri Lanka, the Proteas miscalculated the par score to be the target. South Africa, needing a win to progress, tied the game and were eliminated.

In 1992, during the rain-rules semi-final against England in Sydney, South Africa required 22 off 7 balls but once the rain came, they needed 21 off one ball and were knocked out.

Calamitous run outs

In the India match, Faf du Plessis ran out AB de Villiers for 16 and David Miller for 1.

From 140/2, they lost eight wickets for just 51 runs. As far as disastrous collapses goes, this is similar to South Africa’s poor show in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 semifinal against England, when they were reduced to 80/8.

When one looks at run outs and South Africa, the 1999 World Cup semifinal against Australia in Edgbaston comes to mind. Needing nine off the last over, Lance Klusener smashed Australian pacer Damien Fleming for two boundaries to level the scores.

On the third ball, Allan Donald, the non-striker was backing up too far but he survived. Next ball, Klusener ran but Donald was ball-watching. Australia calmly effected the run out and the match was tied as South Africa exited the tournament.

Bogey Team: India

The Proteas have struggled against India. If one looks at their record against South Africa in ICC events since the 2011 World Cup, including both ODI and T20I, India have a 5-0 record.

“I can’t explain to you exactly what happens,” AB de Villiers said in the post-match press conference on Sunday.

In the 2013 Champions Trophy, following their elimination, coach Gary Kirsten said a “Dark mist hangs over South Africa cricket.”

After this loss, the saga of South Africa’s heartbreak continues.

First Published: Jun 12, 2017 20:18 IST