T20 World Cup: South Africa break semi-final curse, but can they win the title?

Can South Africa Win T20 World Cup 2024 Final?

In a display of cricket that will be remembered for years to come, South Africa emphatically secured their place in the T20 World Cup final, overcoming their notorious semi-final jinx with a commanding victory over Afghanistan. 

This victory not only marked their first-ever appearance in a men’s T20 World Cup final but also heralded a new era for a team that has historically struggled to cross the penultimate hurdle in major ICC tournaments.

The semi-final clash, held in Trinidad, was less a contest and more a showcase of South Africa flauting their powerhouse status over a team not quite familiar with these kind of pitches.

The Proteas’ bowling attack, rejuvenated and relentless, dismantled the Afghan lineup, bowling them out for a paltry 56 runs in just 11.5 overs. This was Afghanistan’s lowest total in the format, highlighting the effectiveness of South Africa’s strategic and aggressive bowling.

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How did South Africa win the semi-final?

The architects of this demolition were Marco Jansen, who captured three wickets for 16 runs, and Anrich Nortje, whose spellbinding pace earned him figures of 2-7. Kagiso Rabada supported admirably with 2-14, while Tabraiz Shamsi cleaned up the tail, claiming three wickets for just six runs. Their combined efforts scripted a narrative of dominance and precision, leaving the Afghan batters with no answers to the relentless pace and swing.

The decision at the toss to bowl first proved pivotal. Both captains had expressed a preference to bat, but it was Rashid Khan of Afghanistan who won the toss and chose to set a target.

However, the pitch at Trinidad, lively and offering ample assistance to the pacers, became a battleground where South Africa’s bowlers thrived. The Afghan openers, who had been instrumental in their team’s journey to the semi-finals, were separated in the very first over, setting the tone for the innings.

In reply, South Africa’s chase was clinical. Despite losing Quinton de Kock early, the Proteas never looked in trouble. Aiden Markram and Reeza Hendricks navigated the tricky conditions with a composed partnership. Hendricks, in particular, was in sublime form, guiding the chase with an unbeaten 29 from just 17 balls. His innings, punctuated by a six and a four in the concluding overs, underscored the confidence and resolve within the South African camp.

What the win means to South Africa

The victory was not just about the statistics; it was a psychological barrier overcome. This was a South African team unburdened by the past, playing with freedom and an evident belief in their abilities. For a nation that has seen its cricket teams falter at critical moments, this win was a cathartic release and a promise of potential glory that could be just around the corner.

As South Africa prepare for the final in Barbados, where they will face either India or England, the narrative has possibly shifted. They are formidable contenders, capable of conquering not just their opponents, but their own historical demons.

South Africa break semifinal curse but can they go all the way

Afghanistan, on the other hand, will depart from the tournament with their heads held high. Their journey to the semi-finals was a testament to their growth and the increasing competitiveness of associate nations on the world stage. Despite the harsh lessons handed to them in this match, their campaign was filled with moments of brilliance and promises much for the future.

As the dust settles on this semi-final, the cricket world will keenly watch to see if South Africa can carry this formidable form into the final.

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South Africa’s history of heartbreaks

South Africa’s cricket history in World Cup semi-finals is marked by several heart-wrenching defeats, earning them the unfortunate moniker of “chokers.” Their saga of heartbreaks began in 1992 in the semi-finals, when a bizarre rain rule calculation left them needing 22 runs from just one ball against England, resulting in an impossible situation that led to their elimination.

The most infamous incident occurred in the 1999 World Cup against Australia, where a mix-up between Lance Klusener and Allan Donald prevented them from scoring the single run needed to secure victory, resulting in a tie that eliminated them due to a lower net run rate.

Further disappointments followed in 2003, where confusion over the Duckworth-Lewis method against Sri Lanka led to Mark Boucher playing a dot ball when a single was needed, resulting in another crucial tie. In 2007, they were outplayed by Australia, bowled out for just 149. The 2011 World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand saw them in a dominant position before a dramatic collapse led to a 49-run defeat.

The 2015 semi-final added to their woes, as fielding errors allowed New Zealand to chase down a challenging total, culminating in a match-winning six in the final overs. Each of these instances contributed to the narrative of South Africa failing to clinch key moments in crucial knockout games.

Can South Africa make history in the final?

After the win, skipper Aiden Markram, who is yet to lose a single game as captain in ICC tournament in 16 attempts, said that the team has the belief to go all the way. Having captained the under-19 team to a title win a decade ago, Markram is believed to be the right person to help South Africa turn a corner.

“We feel and we believe that we can compete with the best in the world and we can win trophies. And it’s nice for us to now have that opportunity and make it into a final,” Markram said after the historic triumph.

“You get a little bit of confidence and a little bit of belief knowing you have done it on a certain level before. I don’t think it’s the exact same here at men’s cricket but there are similar pressures that you have to deal with being in a final and we would have experienced that in 2014.”

South Africa will meet one of India or England in the final and will know that be it either side, they will need to put their best foot forward and click together as a unit to help the team achieve history.

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