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Will South Africa Shed 'Chokers' Tag?

Mumbai, Feb 10: With botched campaigns in every World Cup behind them, South Africa would be eager to get rid off the "chokers" tag hanging around their neck like an albatross in the mega event.
PTI February 10, 2011 17:20 IST
PTI
Mumbai, Feb 10: With botched campaigns in every World Cup behind them, South Africa would be eager to get rid off the "chokers" tag hanging around their neck like an albatross in the mega event.

The first time the Proteas were seen in a World Cup was in 1992, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, but a bizarre rule to decide on rain-affected ties knocked them out at the semifinal stage against England.

Since then South Africa have been trying hard to translate their ability on the cricket field into something tangible in the form of cricket's biggest prize but have been unable to do so.

After missing the mark in five editions, including the one held at home eight years ago, Graeme Smith and his team have landed in the sub continent to try and make up for the lost opportunities in the past.

The team has, arguably, the second-best batting line-up in the world after India's, but as it has often been seen in Cup history that is not a sure-shot insurance for winning the coveted title.

Smith and his men would be striving hard to shed the "underachievers" tag and can take inspiration from Spain who finally bagged football's biggest prize on South African territory last year after years of frustration.

The Proteas have an impressive batting line-up with Jacques Kallis being their leading light and possess a superb pace attack with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel spearheading it.

On paper they do appear to have the arsenal to go all the way in the tournament.

But like Australia, the lack of a top quality spinner might be a disadvantage for South Africa on the sub-continental wickets during the middle overs and they would have to depend on Johan Botha, in the main, to do the job effectively.

The advantage, like with the Australians, is the fact that a lot of players are quite used to Indian conditions because of their stints in the IPL and recent visits to play Tests and ODIs.

They are also a very good fielding unit, with excellent outfielders which should stand them in good stead.

Seeded fourth, South Africa are grouped with India, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and The Netherlands and look well equipped to enter the quarter finals from Group A.

They open the Cup campaign on February 24 against the West Indies at the Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi.

South Africa's World Cup 15: Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, A B de Villiers (wk), J P Duminy, Francois du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne van Wyk (wk).

South Africa's preliminary group matches: v West Indies (Feb 24, Delhi); v The Netherlands (Mar 3, Mohali); v England (Mar 6, Chennai); v India (Mar 12, Nagpur); v Ireland (Mar 15, Kolkata); v Bangladesh (Mar 19, Mirpur). PTI