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WC 2015 team profile: Can South Africa shed their 'chokers' tag?

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South Africa are considered the biggest underachievers of the cricket World Cup as they have consistently choked in the knock-out phase after producing clinical performance in the preliminary stages.

In 1992, the Proteas were knocked out in the semifinals due to an incredible rain rule while in 1999, mindless running by Alan Donald dashed their hopes even when they were just a run away from making their maiden finals.


In 1996, an epic knock by Brian Lara put paid to their dream run in the quarter finals.

In 2011 also, a surprise defeat to New Zealand in the quarterfinals denied the South Africans another go at the trophy.

Can they do it this time? Their current form definitely makes it look possible.

In the 2015 World Cup, South Africa are clubbed with India, Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the UAE in Pool B.

Here is South Africa's schedule at WC 2015: Vs Zimbabwe (Feb 15), Vs India (Feb 22), Vs West Indies (Feb 27), Vs Ireland (Mar 3), Vs Pakistan (Mar 7), Vs UAE (Mar 12)

WC 2015 squad: AB de Villiers (capt & wk), Quinton de Kock (wk), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir.

South Africa's best performance: Semifinalists in 1992, 1999, 2007

South Africa's success percentage in WC: 66.95% (played 47, won 30, lost 15, tied 2)

Most matches as captain: Graeme Smith 17 (Won 11, lost 6)

Highest team score: 356/4 vs West Indies in 2007

Lowest team score: 149 vs Australia in 2007

Most number of matches in WC for South Africa: Jacques Kallis (36)

South Africa's highest scorer in WC: Jacques Kallis (1,148 runs in 36 matches at an average of 45.92, best 128 not out)

Most number of wickets for South Africa in WC: Allan Donald (38 wickets in 25 matches, best 4 for 17)

Highest individual score by a South African in WC: Garry Kirsten (188 not out vs UAE in 1996)

Best bowling figures by a South African in WC: Andrew Hall (5 for 18 vs England in 2007)

Biggest win for South Africa in WC: Vs Kenya and Bangladesh by 10 wickets in 2003; vs the Netherlands by 231 runs in 2011

Narrowest win for South Africa in WC: Vs Sri Lanka by 1 wicket in 2007, vs Pakistan by 20 runs in 1992

Biggest loss for South Africa in WC: Vs New Zealand by 9 wickets in 2003, vs Australia by 83 runs in 2007

Narrowest loss for South Africa in WC: Vs Sri Lanka and England by 3 wickets in 1992, vs West Indies by 3 runs in 2003

Taking a look at South Africa's performance in each of the World Cups since 1992 when they made their debut in the quadrennial tournament:

1992: The South Africans had a rocking start to their World Cup campaign when they hammered Australia by 9 wickets in their debut match in Sydney. The Proteas won five of their eight matches in the round-robin stage to make it to the semifinals.

But the South Africans faced their worst luck in the semifinals against England after their target of 22 off 13 balls was revised to an impossible 21 off 1 ball, thanks to the controversial rain rule of that tournament. South Africa was led by Kepler Wessels in their debut World Cup.

From 22 off 13 balls, SA were left to score 22 off 1 ball in 1992 semifinals!

1996: Led by Hansie Cronje, the South Africans put up a 100 per cent record in the group stage in this edition played in the sub-continent to advance to the quarter-finals as the top team from the group.

But the African side choked in the knock-out hurdle against the West Indies as they lost by 19 runs. Brian Lara's 111 shattered the dream of a team which was considered favourites to lift the cup this time.

1999: Led by Cronje again, the South Africans won all the matches in the group stage barring a surprise defeat against Zimbabwe. They won two matches in the Super Six stage but dropped the catch and with that the match (as Steve Waugh had told Hershelle Gibbs) against Australia.

But it was in the semifinals against the same Australia that the South Africans choked horrendously while chasing a modest 213. Lance Klusener had brought them within a striking distance of a win but Allan Donald's disastrous messing up denied his team a much-deserved victory. The Proteas choked again in the knock-out stage.

2003: The Shaun Pollock-led South African side missed a place in the Super Six in this edition played in their home soil, thanks to a goof-up in reading the revised target in a rain-hit match against Sri Lanka.

The tied match cost the South Africans a crucial point and with that a place in the last six. This World Cup marked a tragic end to the career of Jonty Rhodes who broke his hand during the tournament. Fast bowler Allan Donald also announced his retirement after this tournament.

2007: Under the captaincy of Grame Smith, the South Africans hammered minnows Netherlands and Scotland before losing to Australia to advance to the Super Eight stage. The Proteas played well in the Super Eight stage where they comprehensively beat hosts West Indies and England but lost closely to Sri Lanka.

However, their 67-run loss against Bangladesh was a shocker though that did not disrupt their chances of advancing to the semifinals. But South Africa were no match for eventual champions Australia, who won their third consecutive World Cup trophy that year, as they lost by 7 wickets in the semifinal.

2011: Led by Graeme Smith again, South Africa went to the quarterfinals as the top team from the group with four wins and one loss (went down to England by 6 runs) but could not better their record in the sub-continental World Cup as they lost to New Zealand by 49 runs in the quarterfinals.

Oneindia News

Story first published: Monday, January 19, 2015, 10:35 [IST]
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