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On this day in 1992: South Africa suffer their first-ever World Cup heartbreak

  • Chasing 253 in 45 overs, South Africa found themselves needing 22 off the last 13 deliveries.
  • A 12-minute rain interruption later, the Proteas now needed to score those 22 runs off the last ball of the match.
Modified 22 Mar 2020, 09:23 IST

South African hearts were broken by the rain-rule knocking the Proteas out of the World Cup
South African hearts were broken by the rain-rule knocking the Proteas out of the World Cup

On March 22, 1992, a year after South Africa’s return to cricket on the international stage, they found themselves one match away from making the World Cup final. They only had to overcome England, who had only narrowly defeated the African team in the league stage.

The decision to field first seemed to bode well for the Proteas after they restricted England to 252/6 in their 45 overs in the rain-hit semi-final. While England struggled to get going in the initial stages, Graeme Hick’s 83 kept the Englishmen in the match.

In the run-chase, none of the South African batsmen were able to cross the 50-run mark but they all seemed to chip in with useful contributions. The team found themselves needing 22 runs off the last 13 deliveries to make the World Cup final, a fairly achievable target.

The rain gods, however, had other plans. Showers at Sydney Cricket Ground saw play being interrupted for the next 12 minutes. When cricket resumed, the world was shocked by what the scoreboard showed at the SCG. 

“South Africa need 22 runs off 1 ball,” it read. The Proteas were being punished for a slow over-rate while fielding, by compensating for the time lost due to rain with their batting time. An unfortunate twist to what was certain to be a thrilling finale for a place in the World Cup final.

England would end up comfortably reaching the final, where they would be beaten by Imran Khan-led Pakistan for the Asian nation’s only World Cup win.

This would be the start of a horrendous run for South Africa in ICC World Cup knockout matches. To date, they have won only the single knockout game in 7 world cups, with the win coming against Sri Lanka in the 2015 World Cup quarter final.

Published 22 Mar 2020, 09:23 IST
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