Bengaluru, May 6: South Africa have an uncanny ability of making a mess of things in the ICC Cricket World Cup, no matter how strong they look on paper.
While they were at the receiving end of the dreaded 'rain rule' in the 1992 edition's semifinal against England, they were responsible for their own undoing in the last-four clash of the 1999 edition against Australia.
In 2003, the Proteas were the hosts to the quadrennial tournament and there were expectations that it would go in their favour.
But it did not. Shaun Pollock's side started off with a three-run loss to the West Indies and were trounced by New Zealand. They beat Kenya, Bangladesh and Canada to remain in the race for a semifinal berth and took on an in-form Sri Lanka in their final game in Durban on March 3. With four wins and one loss, the Lankans were sitting pretty and the hosts were under a bigger pressure to win.
Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya won the toss and elected to bat first. Opener Marvan Atapattu's 124 saw the Asian post a fighting total of 268 for nine in 50 overs with Jacques Kallis taking three wickets to be the most successful SA bowler.
As the storm was brewing, the chasing team knew the Duckworth-Lewis would eventually come into play and tried to score briskly to stay ahead of the target at a given point of time.
Openers Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs gave the Proteas a good start before Aravinda de Silva gave Lankans the break. Gary Kirsten, Kallis and Boeta Dippenaar did not last too long and South Africa were reduced to 149 for five in the 30th over.
Pollock and wicket-keeper-batsman Mark Boucher then steadied the ship with a 63-run partnership but the captain's run-out pegged the hosts back even as the asking rate started climbing fast.
South Africa required 230 at the end of the 45th over to earn a win and go through to the Super Six. But there was a huge communication gap as the batsmen on the ground were not updated.
The Proteas reached 229 for six at the end of the 45th over and Boucher was certain that they had made it. The crowd too was on its feet thinking their team had made it but in the dressing room, captain Pollock was aware that the job was yet left to be completed.
Boucher punched in the air after hitting a boundary but was not aware that Proteas needed one more run to win the match. Twelfth man Nicky Boje was supposed to communicate the message to the batsmen in the middle but the total that was conveyed to them was 229 and not 230.
The final ball of the over saw him blocking it thinking the game had already been won. The rain intensified at that moment and the covers came out and Proteas were left without scoring the winning run.
The match ended in a tie and the hosts got only two points. Had they got the full four, their points would have equalled New Zealand's 16 in which case the Proteas would have gone through to the Super Six owing to a better net runrate.
But as always, South Africa were not the Lady Luck's favourites and after 1999, Lance Klusener, who was the other not out batsman along with Boucher, had a long walk back to the pavilion.
A miscalculation left South Africa out of the tournament, conceded Pollock later.