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Choke De South Africa!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Sep 22, 2007
Despite the euphoria over India’s victory on Thursday, one cannot but feel sorry for the manner of South Africa’s exit from the T-20 World Cup, particularly since it is being played on their own turf.

India have often prepared turning tracks at home, only to be hoist by their own petard, notably in the 1996 Wills World Cup semifinal against Sri Lanka at Kolkata.

This time it was the South Africans who were done in by their own pitch preparations. The Indian batsmen and seamers both proved themselves superior under testing conditions.

Still, there was a nagging feeling that if the home side had got to 142 and still lost, India would have topped the group and avoided a potentially fraught semifinal against Australia whom they now face on Saturday.

This appeared to be the dilemma in the minds of the home batsmen. Should they aim for 126 (just enough to qualify for the semis); 142 (top the group) or go for 154 and outright victory? As a result they were trapped in not two but three minds! And sure enough, panic and confusion set in.

Now, the choker’s tag which was first applied after the 1999 World Cup has come back to haunt them.

It is in the nature of this tournament that the only team which had been unbeaten since the start finds itself eliminated while the four teams going through to the semis have all lost at least one match—in the case of Australia, they have been beaten by both Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

It had a slow start for India. Their first match against Scotland was washed out and they were forced to settle for one point. Then came the cliff-hanger against Pakistan which was tied but saw India scrambling home on the ‘bowl-out’.

The Super Eights started on the wrong note too as they were beaten by 10 runs by New Zealand.

It took just one over to turn round the entire campaign, the 19th bowled by Stuart Broad to Yuvraj Singh on Wednesday. Hopefully he will be fit for the semi-finals and can reproduce that golden touch against the team who are both world Test and 50-over champions.

Yuvraj’s smashing six sixes against England means this tournament has seen it all—a first-time century in the opening game, a hat-trick also for the first time and a tie (and bowl-out).

Now all we need is an India—Pakistan final on Monday. That really would be the icing on the cake!

 
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