World Cup, rain, miscalculation and South Africa heartbreaks

Ever since the rain-rule put paid to their realistic hopes of qualifying for the final in 1992, the Proteas have stumbled at the big stage due to one reason or another, and crashed out dramatically.

Rain rule put paid to South Africa's hopes of registering a spot in the 1992 World Cup final. It has fallen in the semifinal stage or earlier ever since. Photo: The Hindu Archives

South Africa begins yet another campaign searching for its first World Cup title with a strong squad. Ever since the rain-rule put paid to its realistic hopes of qualifying for the final in 1992, it has stumbled at the big stage due to one reason or another, and crashed out dramatically.

It's been 27 years since the heartbreak in Sydney. Under an unruffled, confident captain in Faf du Plessis, South Africa will be trying hard to move past scars for a title bid.

Here are the contests that have seen the Proteas tumble out.

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MATCH 1: SEMIFINAL - England vs South Africa, Sydney, 1992 World Cup

RESULT: England won by 19 runs (via rain rule)

TALKING POINT: The rain interruption that prompted the rain-rule to be employed and oust South Africa from the contest. In its first-ever World Cup, the side trotted to the semifinals and was well in the hunt to clinch its target of 253 in 45 overs. Needing 22 runs from 13 deliveries, the South Africans were forced to endure a rain-break that proved to be fatal. At resumption, the side needed 21 from one delivery — turning what would have been an exciting climax to an anti-climax.

The moment brought a reanalysis of the contentious rain rule that was eventually replaced by the Duckworth-Lewis (now Duckworth-Lewis-Stern) method.

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MATCH 2: QUARTERFINAL - South Africa vs West Indies, Karachi, 1996 World Cup

RESULT: West Indies won by 19 runs

TALKING POINT: For South Africa, it was another case of so-near-yet-so-far. The margin of defeat was small, and it took a middle-order collapse precipitated by spinners Jimmy Adams and Roger Harper to shift the momentum after a promising start to the chase of 265 by the Proteas. Andrew Hudson and Daryll Cullinan had scored half-centuries, and Hansie Cronje had chipped in with a 40. At 186 for 3, Cronje was dismissed, and before long, his team fell to 198 for 7 and then 228 for 9.

Adams and Harper took seven wickets between them.

With the bat, Brian Lara shone for West Indies. He scored a 94-ball 111. He found good support from opener Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who scored 56. The two laid the foundation for a strong total with a partnership of 138.

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MATCH 3: SEMIFINAL - Australia vs South Africa, Edgbaston, 1999 World Cup

RESULT: MATCH TIED

TALKING POINT: With twists and turns throughout the see-saw game, and with the most astonishing climax, this contest was perhaps the most exciting match of all World Cups. Cronje's South Africa was a confident side coming into the event, and looked good to clinch the title. It suffered its first setback in the Super Six stage, when a probable win turned into a defeat thanks to Steve Waugh's match-winning century in a tough chase of 272. En route, Waugh was helped by a reprieve from Herschelle Gibbs in the form of a dropped catch.

It lifted Australia to the semifinals, where the two teams met again.

This time, the contest did not tilt decisively in any one team's favour, until the very end. Wickets fell consistently across both innings. For Australia, Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan scored half-centuries to enable a total of 213.

Shane Warne, the leg-spinner, made crucial breakthroughs when South Africa batted. At one point reduced to 61 for 4, the side recovered, thanks to Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes, who put on 84 runs together. Later, as wickets kept falling, Lance Klusener kept the hopes alive and nearly pulled off a dramatic victory before attempting a suicidal run in the final over.

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Needing nine runs to win from the final over, with one wicket remaining, Klusener slapped Damien Fleming, the seamer, for two fours through the off-side. Then, he pulled the bowler straight to the fielder at mid-on; Allan Donald, at the non-strikers' end, found himself short when the ball - thrown by the fielder - passed the stumps. Off the next delivery, Klusener dug out a yorker and sprinted for what would have been the winning run; Donald hesitated, and before long, had to take off as Klusener had almost made it to his end. Mark Waugh gently rolled the ball across the pitch and Adam Gilchrist collected it and duly ran Donald out.

It sparked wild celebrations from Australia; the match had been tied, and Australia had progressed to final on a better net run-rate.

South Africa tied the semifinal contest in the 1999 World Cup but Australia went through to the final due to a better net run-rate. Photo: The Hindu Archives

 

MATCH 3: South Africa vs Sri Lanka, Durban, 2003 World Cup

RESULT: MATCH TIED (Duckworth-Lewis Method)

TALKING POINT: South Africa's fatal error in reading the required target as set by the Duckworth-Lewis method. This was the home team's final contest in the group stages, and it needed to win to progress to the next stage. As in 1992, rain caused South Africa pain once again.

In the 45th over of South Africa's innings, Mark Boucher had been conveyed a target of 229, but they needed to score one more run to win. As it turned out, Boucher calmly pushed the final ball of that over to leg and did not take a single. The ball before, he had hit a six. The teams couldn't return to the pitch after the interruption as the rain had got hard.

Shaun Pollock, the captain, was seen with his hands with his head in the dressing room. In front of the home crowd, South Africa had crashed out in the first round.

For Sri Lanka, Marvan Attapattu was the star - he scored 124.

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MATCH 4: SEMIFINAL - Australia vs South Africa, Gros Islet, 2007 World Cup

RESULT: Australia won by seven wickets

TALKING POINT: In the 2007 World Cup, South Africa found itself in the path of a furious Australian onslaught. Fast bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shaun Tait tore the opposition batting line-up to shreds, taking seven wickets between them. South Africa had been bowled out for 149.

Australia romped home in the 32nd over.

MATCH 5: QUARTERFINAL - New Zealand vs South Africa, Dhaka, 2011 World Cup

RESULT: New Zealand won by 49 runs

TALKING POINT: A batting collapse. At 108 for 2, South Africa seemed well in the hunt to clinch the target of 222. Off-spinner Nathan McCullum and seamer Jacob Oram then precipitated a collapse that saw the Proteas being reduced to 132 for 7. Faf du Plessis tried to keep South Africa alive, but when he fell, in the 43rd over, it was all over.

Oram and McCullum took seven wickets together.

Jesse Ryder had top-scored for New Zealand, with 83.

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MATCH 6: SEMIFINAL - New Zealand vs South Africa, Auckland, 2015 World Cup

RESULT: New Zealand won by four wickets

TALKING POINT: A teary exit for South Africa. It was a thrilling contest. New Zealand turned out to be its nemesis once again. The 43-over target of 298 was reached off the penultimate ball of the contest, Grant Elliott smashing the six that was the winning hit. Needing five runs off two deliveries, Elliott smashed a length ball from Dale Steyn for a mighty six that let out a roar from the batsman as well as the crowd.

AB de Villiers' dream of lifting the cup had been dashed.