So South Africa finally broke the 23-year-old jinx of not winning a single knockout match in either the ODI or T20 World Cup. The current team got together and gave such a brutal performance that the choke jinx was shattered.
And it was quite a jinx that lasted from 1992-2015. It spanned the 1992 ODI WC semi-final, the 1996 ODI WC quarter-final, the 1999 ODI WC semi-final, the 2007 ODI WC semi-final, the 2009 T20 WC semi-final, the 2011 ODI WC quarter-final and the 2014 T20 WC semi-final.
Phew! That’s quite a list!
Sometimes, one person makes the difference and sometimes it's three to four that help you cross the line. But very rarely do 11/11 perform and contribute to a victory and this is precisely what happened…
AB de Villiers: Led from the front. Talked positively in all press conferences and exuded confidence that the jinx would finally be broken. Was an attacking captain right from the word go and never let his foot off the pedal. Under him all the players maintained the pressure on the opponents from the beginning to the end.
Imran Tahir: The pick of the bowlers. His 4-26 broke the back of the Sri Lankan batting and he didn't even need to finish his quota of overs. For a spinner to bowl 50 balls and have just two of them hit for boundaries on an Australian pitch—is very special indeed. It also included one caught and bowled.
JP Duminy: Imagine being a part-time bowler and picking up your country's first World Cup hat-trick. That is a very special moment indeed. Bowled 9 overs and didn't at all look like a part-time bowler in the match.
Dale Steyn: He was the key and most economical bowler. When one of your opening bowlers has a spell of 7-2-18-1, then you get the opposition on the back foot right from the beginning. He picked up the dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan to have Sri Lanka reeling at 4-2.
Kyle Abbott: While Steyn is always fearsome, if the bowler at the other end gives off runs, then it all comes to naught. Abbott took the first breakthrough and gave able company to Steyn.
Morne Morkel: Completed the fast bowling troika of really tight spells and took the most important wicket of the match. Kumar Sangakkara suddenly stepped up the pace and hit 11 runs off 4 balls. Had he stayed, Lanka could have touched 180-200. He got Sanga in the very next over.
Quinton de Kock: On the field took the catches of Kusal Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara. The first catch he took was an absolute stunner. It was a one-handed beauty while diving to one side. That came off just the 10th ball of the innings and set the pace for the match. Then he chose the knockout to post his personal highest score of the tournament: 78*.
Faf du Plessis: Was very active on the field and took the catches of Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews.He was also involved in a second wicket partnership of 94 runs.
Hashim Amla: Sometimes when you are chasing a low target if you lose quick wickets in the first few overs then a batting collapse is possible and low chases become tricky. But he put on 40 runs for the first wicket to make sure such a thing didn't happen.
David Miller: Took the catches of the dangerous Sanga and Lasith Malinga.
Rilee Rossouw: Took the catch of Perera.
So 10 men either took a wicket or a catch or made some runs while the captain led from the front. It has been a stunning team performance that has seen a brilliant South African victory.
Sri Lanka never had a chance in the match from the very beginning. They were 133 all down and South Africa chased that in a mere 18 overs after losing just one wicket. Now the South African fan must be asking only one question. Can ABD and his men make it three in a row?
But while one jinx has been shattered, another one still remains…
South Africa has never entered the final of a World Cup!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at here