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When miscalculation sent South Africa out of home World Cup

Updated June 28, 2019

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South Africa hold a clear advantage over Sri Lanka, winning three of their past four World Cup fixtures after losing the very first meeting against them. — AFP/File
South Africa hold a clear advantage over Sri Lanka, winning three of their past four World Cup fixtures after losing the very first meeting against them. — AFP/File

KARACHI: South Africa, the perennial chokers of international cricket without any doubt, were knocked out of the 2003 World Cup — which they were co-hosting with Zimbabwe and Kenya — in bizarre circumstances by Sri Lanka after being tipped among the favourites.

In the do-or-die pool fixture at the Kingsmead in Durban, South Africa had reached 229-6 in 45 overs in pursuit of a 269-run target just as light drizzle became heavier. At the conclusion of the 44th over a message was relayed to Mark Boucher by the dressing room that score needed to be 229 by the end of the 45th over assuming no further wickets went down.

After striking the fifth ball of the 45th over for a six to take the total to 229, Boucher chose to defend the last ball just before the umpires took the players off the field.

The elation in the South African camp soon turned to despair because the wrong instructions had relayed to Boucher because 229 only pointed to a tie and not a win for the Proteas, as the rain drenched the ground with no chance of any resumption.

Shaun Pollock paid a big price for the blooper when he was later sacked as the captain, while Sri Lanka progressed to the Super Sixes.

Apart from that tied encounter, South Africa hold a clear advantage over Sri Lanka, winning three of their four World Cup fixtures after losing the very first meeting against them — following the end of apartheid in the Rainbow Nation — during the 1992 tournament.

In the game at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, South Africa mustered 195 all out in 50 overs before Sri Lanka won by three on the penultimate ball of the match.

The teams then came face-to-face in the 1999 World Cup but defending champions Sri Lanka capitulated to an 89-run defeat at Northampton after the Proteas only scored 199-9 in 50 overs.

Sri Lanka were denied again in the 2007 World Cup as South Africa clinched a thrilling one-wicket win on the second-last ball of the Super Eight game in Providence.

Charl Langeveldt claimed 5-39 as Sri Lanka collected 209 in 49.3 overs. Lasith Malinga then turned the match on its head by grabbing an incredible four wickets in as many deliveries in the space of two separate overs but the Proteas somehow hung on.

The last time Sri Lanka played South Africa in the quarter-final of the 2015 competition in Sydney where the islanders suffered a nine-wicket humiliation after folding up for 133 in 37.3 overs with Imran Tahir capturing 4-26 before Quinton de Kock blasted a 57-ball 78 to close out the match.

Head-to-head summary:

March 2, 1992 — Wellington (Basin Reserve), Sri Lanka won by three wickets

May 19, 1999 — Northampton, South Africa won by 89 runs

March 3, 2003 — Durban, match tied

March 28, 2007 — Providence, South Africa won by one wicket

March 18, 2015 — Sydney, South Africa won by nine wickets.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2019