“Chokersâ is a tag that haunts the South African cricket team. And unfortunately this tag will remain with the South African cricket team forever. In the past too, cricket analysts and former greats were simply unable to fathom as to why a team which has so much all-round talent like South Africa tripped in the big tournaments with regular consistency.
With names such as AB De Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, David Miller and Morne Morkel in their ranks, many thought it was their best ever chance for an elusive World Cup glory. There was no doubt whatsoever that the task ahead for skipper De Villiers was like climbing the Mount Everest. He was, after all, aiming to do what no South African skipper before him, be it Kepler Wessels, the late Hansie Cronje, Shaun Pollock and Graeme Smith, has done â lift the coveted World Cup.
One feels hard for De Villiers. He was the most innovative skipper to come out of South Africa. And if ever the Proteas stood a good chance of winning a World Cup, it was under his captaincy. After having led from the front the way he does best â with aggression and his own brilliant form â De Villiers would surely be gutted by the 2015 World Cup semifinal loss to Kiwis. It was once again a case of so near yet so far that South African players were in tears (even De Villiers was in tears at the post-match press conference) after the loss indicated how badly they wanted to win and how crestfallen they were.
So where did the Proteas lose their way? After winning the toss, South Africa were inching towards a mammoth total. With Faf Du Plessis and De Villiers batting brilliantly, the Proteas were heading for a 300-plus total. Though De Villiers towards the end struggled for runs , big-hitting David Millerâs cameo of 49 off 18 came at the right time as they finished at 281/5 in 43 overs. And when the D/L method came into force, the target was 298. The onus was now on the potent South African pace attack to stand tall.