Oops, they did it again: West Indies tried to help but 'choke-masters' South Africa live up to their tag - Firstpost
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Oops, they did it again: West Indies tried to help but 'choke-masters' South Africa live up to their tag


Oops... I did it again
I played with your heart, got lost in the game
Oh baby baby.

Yes, those are the lyrics to a Britney Spears song. They also pretty much sum up the Proteas’ latest effort in a must-win ICC tournament match.

South Africa's Quinton de Kock is castled gets clean bowled during World T20 match against West Indies in Nagpur on Friday. Solaris Images

South Africa's Quinton de Kock is castled gets clean bowled during World T20 match against West Indies in Nagpur on Friday. Solaris Images

Coming into the World T20 with so much promise and hope South Africa delivered instantly, posting the daunting target of 230 for England to chase in their first match. As we know this went really badly though, so now against the West Indies in their third match, they were in a ‘must-win’ situation.

These are not good situations for South Africa, and when Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla chose to look longingly into each other’s eyes in the middle of the pitch in the first over, instead of run a single, the tone was set for more of the same.

1/1 became 13/2, which then went to 20/3… It was vintage Proteas here as they were doing their utmost to wrestle back the choker’s tag from Bangladesh who briefly took it after their last match versus India.

AB de Villiers and Quinton De Kock then managed to bat long enough for us to work out what sort of a pitch we had on our hands. As expected it was pretty low and slow, and hardly a high scorer. But surely it wasn’t as bad as the Proteas were making it look?

46/4, 47/5… What was going on?

Well the Windies weren’t bowling incredibly, this needs to be made clear at this point. They were, however, implementing a rather clever strategy. The Proteas had no doubt prepared for Badree and Benn as the spin threats on this pitch but Chris Gayle had his first bowl in an international T20 since 2012, and returned figures of 2/17 in 3 overs.

Nobody saw this coming, but with three left-handers in the Proteas top-6, Gayle’s part-time right arm off spin was a good call. Batsmen 3-6 added just 20 runs to the cause, and the South Africans were now just looking to post something around 120.

While they knuckled down to do this, you just couldn’t help watch and wonder how a team as talented and resource rich as South Africa can be so consistently disappointing in ICC tournaments. ODIs or T20s, it matters not, this team will get themselves into a pressure situation and capitulate in alarming fashion!

122 they eventually posted but the number meant nothing. It was clear they were about to depart from a tournament long before they probably should. You just had that familiar feeling.

To their credit, the Proteas tried what they could in the field. Rabada bowled Gayle early, Rossouw executed a brilliant run out to get rid of Fletcher, and Wiese deceived Charles into a poor shot. The spin of Tahir and Phangiso was quite brilliant from there, combining for 3/32 off 8, and together with Wiese’s 1/19 off 4, the Proteas managed to take the game to the final two overs.

20 off 12 was suddenly the equation for the West Indies, but Morris and Rabada failed to defend it with a Rabada length ball in the final over going for 6 just all too reminiscent of Steyn to Elliott in the 2015 ICC World Cup.

Cometh the hour, choketh the Proteas.

Not a great deal more to say than that. They just keep failing, and they clearly just keep doing the wrong things in the aftermaths.

They say you learn a lot in defeat, so therefore the Proteas’ should be the smartest, most learned cricketing team in the world.

They are anything but though, and this must be accepted now. The time for excuses is over, and a mindset shift is needed. But that’s another article completely.

Sure, South Africa do have a mathematical chance of still getting through to the semi-finals if England lose to Sri Lanka, then South Africa smash Sri Lanka. But they don’t deserve to progress, so I’d rather listen to a Britney Spears song then entertain such an outcome.

First Published On : Mar 26, 2016 19:13 IST

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