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World Cups, South Africa and Duckworth-Lewis: Rain brings no joy to the rainbow nation

Saturday’s loss to Pakistan in the rain-marred Pool B World Cup game would have reopened old wounds for South Africa.

WorldCup2015 Updated: Mar 24, 2015, 10:32 IST
Abhimanyu Kulkarni
Abhimanyu Kulkarni
Hindustan Times

South Africa were going great guns against New Zealand in their semifinal at Eden Park, Auckland on Tuesday, when the rains made an appearance. They have been playing hide-and-seek since then. The groundsman have been unable to take off the covers.

Whenever Messrs Duckworth-Lewis come into play in crucial rain-affected World Cup games involving South Africa, there is little joy for the rainbow nation.

1992 semi-final: Start of a rocky relationship with D/L
Sydney Cricket Ground

South Africa were in their first World Cup and made it to the semi-final against England. New rain rules had been introduced in the tournament for the first time to make rain-shortened games fairer.

Put in to bat, England scored 252/6 in 45 overs. The innings was curtailed as South Africa had a slow over rate, for which they were later fined.

South Africa began their chase well and were on their way to victory, needing 47 runs off the last 5 overs with four wickets in hand. David Richardson (now the ICC CEO) and Brian McMillan reduced the required runs to 22 off 13 balls. That was when catastrophe struck.

Rain grew heavy and the umpires asked the players what they wanted to do. While South Africa wanted to go on, England skipper Graham Gooch was adamant that he wanted to take his players off as they were struggling with a wet ball and sodden outfield.

Rain soon stopped and only 12 minutes were lost. The new rules stated that overs would be deducted for any time lost — and the scoreboard showed 22 runs needed off 7 balls. This later turned out to be a farce, as moments later the target was revised to 22 off 1 ball.

This too was wrong because the actual requirement was 21 off 1 ball!

The crowd was unhappy, so was the South African dressing room. They took a single off the last ball and stomped off the field.

2003 Group Stage: Rain, brain freeze, D/L math pangs

Kingsmead, Durban

South Africa were the hosts, and with a team consisting of star players such as Shaun Pollock, Herschelle Gibbs, Lance Klusener, Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher, Makhaya Ntini and Gary Kirsten, home fans were a confident lot.

South Africa had been fending off an uncomfortable 'chokers' tag and this was the perfect setting to cast it off.

Rain, brain freeze and mangled calculations saw them crash out in the group stage.

Sri Lanka rode on Marvan Attapattu's century to post 268/9. Herschelle Gibbs scored 73 to get South Africa going. Play was called off after the 45th over with the Proteas placed at 229 for 6.

At the end of the 44th over, the dressing room sent a message to Mark Boucher, who was going great guns then, that 229 at the end of the 45th over would ensure them victory as per D/L if they did not lose any more wickets.

Boucher and Klusener took 13 runs off the first 5 balls of Muralitharan's over. Boucher pumped his fist in the air after sending the 5th ball flying over the boundary. He defended the last ball under the impression that they had already won. Covers were brought on.

Boucher's jubilation first turned into confusion and then despair. The instructions sent to him had been wrong. South Africa needed 229 for a tie, and they needed an outright win to advance to the Super Sixes. All their hope of lifting the title came crashing down.

2015 Group Stage: D/L makes its presence felt

Eden Park, Auckland

Courtesy D/L, South Africa had to score 232 to win after dismissing Pakistan for 222 on Saturday. The game had been reduced to 47 overs a side.

Pakistan’s fast bowlers ripped through the Proteas top order, but many a South African fan will feel aggrieved with the extra runs added on by D/L method.

Going solely by empirical evidence, D/L method is unlikely to get much love from South Africa.

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