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World Cup Jinx back to haunt Proteas?

I have been following this country very closely in every big tournament. Despite possessing an explosive batting line-up, skilled bowlers and energetic fielders, what stops this team from achieving it big on the international stage is a puzzling question. In this edition of the World Cup as well, the South Africans started off brilliantly only to lose in the crunch encounter against England poorly, thus continuing their trend of failing to turn up in big matches.

Forever deemed ‘Chokers’, the Proteas have always been hampered by jittery nerves at crunch moments. No one can forget their 1999 World Cup Semi-final debacle against Australia in which Klusener played a cameo to bring his team back into the game after losing quick wickets but Alan Donald made a mess of a golden opportunity to make the finals. The same story of jittery nerves was repeated in the next two World Cups and even in Champions Trophies. South Africans are still struggling to figure out the solution for their big tournament’s jinx.

The infamous mix-up incident in the '99 World Cup when South Africa choked at the final stages

Coming back to the current World Cup and their loss to England, they next face India in a crucial encounter. Recalling the last time these two cricket giants met in World Cup was in 1999 with South Africans emerging the winners, getting the better of India. I can’t forget the 97 runs scored by Saurav Ganguly and the well paced half century by Rahul Dravid going in vain that day as the South Africans chased down 254 with ease. Thanks once again to their all time savior Kallis.

The pitch in Nagpur is expected to favour batsmen. This is the same venue where Hashim Amla plundered 200 runs last year in the test match making merry out of Indian Bowling attack. So we can expect a really high scoring game tomorrow. Kallis, the only South African to have completed 10,000 runs in both Test and one-day cricket, has so far contributed just 21 runs in his side’s three matches. But South Africa suffered a blow ahead of Saturday’s game when leg-spinner Imran Tahir became a doubtful starter after fracturing his left thumb during the England match. Hopefully Peterson would to rise to the occasion to help them stop the Indian Batting Juggernaut.

Selection woes aside, the big issue for South Africa is to analyse the reason for their poor performance in crunch games and get things right before they go into the all important match against India, as from now on, it’s business time in the tournament and there can be no room for errors and jittery nerves.

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