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Ken Borland


SA World Cup misfortune: When rain has previously impeded the Proteas

Posted on January 13, 2023 by Ken

South Africa’s misfortune at cricket world cups is well known and the nation’s cursed luck struck again in their opening T20 World Cup match in Hobart this week when they were forced to share the points with Zimbabwe after rain washed out play with the Proteas needing just 13 runs in four overs to win.

Here are three other times rain has impeded South Africa at cricket world cups –

March 22, 1992 in Sydney

South Africa was heading towards democracy and euphoria was gripping the nation as the team marched into the semi-finals of their first World Cup. But the nation’s hopes were dashed as, chasing 253 to win in 45 overs, South Africa reached 231/6 off 42.5 overs when rain arrived.

Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson had already added 25, but when play resumed, the weird rules for adjusted targets (the team batting first had their lowest-scoring overs taken off the total), and the TV cut-off time meant South Africa needed 21 runs off the last ball, their adjusted target being 252 in 43 overs.

Many believe this is when South Africa’s World Cup curse began.

March 3, 2003 in Durban

There were high hopes for South Africa as the 2003 World Cup was held there following their exit in 1999 in an epic semi-final tie with Australia. But this time they failed to progress out of the group stages, ironically again due to a tie in what would be their last match. There was rain around Kingsmead as they chased 269 to beat Sri Lanka and, with Mark Boucher and captain Shaun Pollock at the crease in the closing stages, the sheets for the Duckworth/Lewis targets were brought out to them and also Lance Klusener when Pollock was run out. But what nobody realised was the number printed on the paper was the par score, so South Africa needed one more run to win. Boucher, thinking they had done enough to win, blocked what would turn out to be the last ball as the heavens opened. Why nobody realised the mistake and who was to blame – Pollock, Boucher, coach Eric Simons or the manager? – were questions that tortured local fans for weeks.

March 24, 2015 in Auckland

Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers were going great guns in the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, having added 102 for the fourth wicket in less than 12 overs and with 12 overs remaining to add to their total of 216/3. And then the rain came.

Du Plessis gloved a hook down the leg-side off the second ball back and vital momentum was lost with the Proteas finishing on 281/5 in 43 overs.

Duckworth/Lewis credited them with some extra runs though and New Zealand were set 298 to win in 43 overs. It is only befitting of a World Cup curse that it was a South African born player, Grant Elliott, who lashed 84 not out off 73 balls to eliminate his former compatriots. What could have been if there had been no rain delay?

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