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“Now, 2019 is added to the glorious yet infamous list of bottling up and South Africa’s World Cup jinx. The rain rule in 1992, the dominance before crumble in 1996, the madness in 1999, the rain again in 2003, the familiar knockout phobia in 2007, the easy bottle-up in 2011 and the crumbling tears in 2015”

Another World Cup game, another knockout (well, virtual), another crumble under pressure. South Africa have bottled up yet another World Cup game despite being ahead.

It had all the ingredients of a typical South African bottle up in a World Cup game. Drop catches, run-outs missed, misfields, no-balls, a non-review! In fact, rain also had a say as it delayed the start of the game. Also, another important ingredient which has been prominent in the last three World Cups, including this one, NEW ZEALAND! And in the end, yet another heartbreak.

The 2011 World quarter-final, the 2015 World Cup semi-final and now, this. New Zealand have eliminated South Africa in each of the last three World Cups now. In every game, South Africa were calling the shots at one point of time.

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In 2011, they were chasing just 222 and the game was almost in the bag with them going well, having knocked off almost half the runs with just two wickets down. However, they lost one wicket which triggered the collapse and they crumbled. In 2015, they had 299 to defend in 43 overs. The South African bowlers had done really well but they didn’t have the support in the field. Drop catches, missed runouts and such anxious moments cost them a place in the final of the 2015 World Cup.

Come 2019, there were a lot of similarities between the 2015 game. Catches were dropped at crucial junctures, runouts were missed with players taking the bails off without collecting the ball, untimely misfields, untimely boundaries and that slog over mid-wicket (rather cow-corner) in the last over.

Also read: The same old story for South Africa

On a tricky two-paced surface, South Africa could manage just 241 in a truncated game (49 overs a side). Five of the top six batsmen got starts but apart from Rassie van der Dussen, none of them could covert their start. And each of the top four were stuck in second gear (all their strike-rates in the 60s) and just couldn’t get a move on.

It was still a competitive score on what was a tacky surface. New Zealand got a solid start despite losing Colin Munro early. However, a stroke of luck (with the Martin Guptill hit wicket) and an inspired spell from Chris Morris put them in front. The Proteas bowlers then controlled it nicely. They never allowed the New Zealand batsmen to get away easily. They put a lid on the scoring rate as well as Kane Williamson along with the lower middle order tried to take the game deep.

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However, New Zealand still got away and it was the anxiousness of the Proteas that consumed them. There was a period between the 38th and the 41st over where multiple opportunities came South Africa’s way. Some were half chances, some were near misses and some were straight forward ones. But each one of them went begging.

In fact, South Africa could’ve had both of New Zealand’s match-winners with the bat, Kane Williamson and Colin de Grandhomme in the same over. It was the 38th over (Imran Tahir bowling) when all the drama started to unfold and the heat was on. The first delivery of the over, Williamson almost chipped one to mid-wicket but it fell wide and short of David Miller. The fourth ball of the over, de Grandhomme got a life and Miller dropped a tough chance. And then came the biggest miss. Williamson nicked one to Quinton de Kock and barring Tahir no one spotted the edge and South Africa didn’t review.

If this wasn’t enough, Miller took the bails off without collecting the ball and Williamson would’ve been gone if the left-hander would’ve collected the ball cleanly. It was very 2015-esque.

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A no-ball followed, another couple of near misses had the South Africans with their hands on their heads. But nothing turned into wickets. It did in the penultimate over when Colin de Grandhomme holed out to long-off where Faf du Plessis who has been through two crumbles in the past, showed the way. The game was still alive but the genius of Williamson got the Kiwis over the line. It was a typical error-laden South African bottle-up in a World Cup game which was a knockout (virtual).

Now, 2019 is added to the glorious yet infamous list of bottling up and South Africa’s World Cup jinx. The rain rule in 1992, the dominance before crumble in 1996, the madness in 1999, the rain again in 2003, the familiar knockout phobia in 2007, the easy bottle-up in 2011 and the crumbling tears in 2015.

South Africa’s knockout hoodoo, South Africa’s New Zealand hoodoo and South Africa’s World Cup hoodoo continues!

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