New Delhi, March 9 : Infamous as chokers in big tournaments, South Africa face the formidable task of displaying their best in the 2019 ODI World Cup as a couple of their star players have bid adieu to international cricket.
The Proteas have lost all of their nine knockout matches in International Cricket Council tournaments (ICC) in the past 15 years.
It was way back in 1992 when South Africa first featured in the 50-over World Cup, after being reinstated as a Test playing nation. Although not much was expected from them, the then skipper Kepler Wessels and his boys stunned everyone by entering the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals against England, South Africa needed 22 runs from 13 deliveries. At that stage, it seemed they would book their place in the final comfortably.
But a 10-minute delay due to rain saw the target revised to 22 runs off 1 ball, based on the Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) method, and an unlucky South Africa had to exit the tournament.
The Proteans went on to face somewhat similar situations in 1996, 2003, 2007 and 2011 and 2015 World Cups.
Some of the Proteans stars have also taken retirement, which might hamper the preparations for the prestigious cup. AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel — players who could turn the match in their favour at any point of time — had retired and it may cost them.
Despite the several heartbreaks, there were few positive for the country. They hold the record of the highest successful run chase and made the highest total in an iconic match against Australia on March 12, 2006. But the record now has been surpassed.
South Africa hammered the Netherlands by 231 runs in World Cup 2011, the fourth largest margin of victory for any team in World Cups and the largest for South Africa in World Cups.
In the 2019 tournament, if South Africa can fill the void left by these two players and trust their skills, they might shrug off the chokers tag.