South Africa seek freedom from ‘C’ word


DHAKA – South Africa will start as firm favourites to win Friday’s World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand — provided they can overcome their trademark knock-out blues. In five previous tournaments, the Proteas crashed out three times in the semi-finals, once in the quarter-final and another time in the first round, earning them the unwanted tag of cricket’s perennial chokers.
It was not the defeats, but the manner in which they happened, that left their fans dumbfounded and wondering if the nation will ever win the showpiece event.
South Africa can hardly be blamed for the semi-final loss in their maiden Cup appearance in 1992 — a crazy rain-rule left them needing 21 runs off one ball — but what followed was their own undoing.
South Africa went into the quarter-finals in 1996 unbeaten in the league, only to find West Indies’ star batsman Brian Lara smash 111 off 94 balls to cause a 19-run defeat in Karachi. In 1999, a disastrous run-out involving Lance Kluesner and Allan Donald when just one run was needed to win resulted in a tie, allowing Australia to scrape through to the final on superior net run-rate. A comedy of errors followed at home in Durban in 2003 as Mark Boucher defended the final ball when South Africa needed one more run to win the rain-affected match against Sri Lanka.