So South Africa fails to make yet another final in a jinx nobody knows how long it will last. A look at some of the things that went wrong for the Proteas in the ODI World Cup 2015 semi-final against New Zealand…
The surprise exclusion: Vernon Philander's injury gave Kyle Abbott a chance and boy did he grab it with both hands! In four matches he picked up 9 wickets at an astounding average of 14.4. If your injured player is back and if your replacement is playing like this you can't drop him.
Imagine entering the semi-final and dropping your best bowler who has the best average and best economy rate for your team in the tournament! It was a funny decision by captain AB de Villiers and it backfired in the end.
Philander's bowling analysis read… 8-0-52-0. Tough punishment for the splendid Abbott!
It's rain yet again: What is with South Africa and rain? They lost out in 1992 with the silly rain rule and in 2003 a wrong reading of the Duckworth/Lewis target cost them a semi-final berth. There was rain again in the quarters but luckily that didn't affect the match.
This time around South Africa was 281-5 in 43 overs. With de Villiers on the rampage, Proteas fans might well have thought that in a full quota of overs SA may have even done 360. But then that's just another in the list of endless might have beens!
Fielding review: Very few captains can use the DRS correctly. India may be opposing it, but in the 2011 World Cup MS Dhoni used it brilliantly. In the sixth over itself Imran Tahir appealed for an LBW.
It was a close decision and de Villiers should have known that at such times the umpire’s decision is rarely overturned. South Africa lost the review and was handicapped for the rest of the match.
But in the end it was the fielding that let them down…
The first two lives: In the third over itself JP Duminy had a chance to get Martin Guptill out. However not only did he miss the stumps, but he also conceded an overthrow, something the South Africans rarely do. At that time Guptill was on 1 so you could say it cost them 33 runs.
Later Corey Anderson ran for a non-existent single and Elliott sent him back. AB de Villiers received the ball and Anderson was more than half way down the pitch. De Villiers could have done it in slow motion.
Instead he dropped the ball and hit the stumps and the bails fell. Still Anderson was far away and de Villiers had more than enough time to calmly pick up the ball and uproot the stumps. Instead he fell on the stumps and an Anderson who had totally given up ran back and got a life.
That's got to be one of the worst run out misses of all time. Anderson made 58 so it cost them 16 runs, crucial in a close match.
The charmed life of George Elliott: In the 41st over, Elliott ran for a non-existent double. Rilee Rossouw picked up the ball cleanly and threw it back. When it was about to reach Quinton de Kock, Elliott wasn't even in the frame on the TV screen.
Then de Kock did a de Villiers and dropped the ball and hit the stumps with his gloves. You could say that this cost them the World Cup final berth. Elliott was on 66 at that time. De Villiers got half a chance in the very same over.
In the next over Elliot skied the ball really high and it was a catch for sure, but in the end there was nothing but a collision between two South African fielders. Even with two balls to go in the final over, Daniel Vettori missed the ball and ran for a non-existent single. De Kock threw the balls at the stumps and he missed. Dale Steyn picked up the ball and missed at the other end.
In one way you could say that the South African fielders missed 6-7 wickets which are far too much for a match that got this close.
The South Africans are the best fielders in the world and you could say that it was their fielding that choked this time.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://www.sunilrajguru.com/