Delhi Capitals'  Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada arive at the team hotel in Mumbai
Double trouble: Anrich Nortje (left) and Kagiso Rabada, seen during IPL, can wreak havoc on their opponents with sheer pace and accuracy. Image Credit: Twitter

South Africa has been one team which has always raised hopes of their fans but never been able to cross the line in the major ICC tournaments when it mattered. When they made their entry in the white ball format in the 1992 World Cup, they looked unbeatable till they were robbed off a win against England because of the archaic rain-rule.

The rain-rule was replaced by Duckworth Lewis system, but it also cost them dearly in the 2003 World Cup when they lost to Sri Lanka by one run. If it was not rain, sometimes brain-freeze cost them an entry to the knockout stage like when Lance Klusener and Allan Donald were stranded on the crease in 1999 where they were the favourites but choked at the last moment and fell short.

In the shortest format too, South Africa had a similar run. In the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 where they were hosts, they won all their matches and had to just score 124 in their last Super Six game against India to reach the semi-finals but lost it to get knocked out as they managed just 116 runs. Similarly in 2009, they were beaten in the semi-finals by a resurgent Pakistan in the semi-finals where Shahid Afridi was the hero of the game.

In 2014, South Africa were beaten by Virat Kohli’s epic innings where they were again knocked out in the semi-finals.


This is the first time South Africa enter the World T20 as underdogs and hence have no baggage of favourites tag. They don’t have any superstars in their team to boast like AB De Villiers or Faf Du Plessis but are led by Temba Bavuma. They are coming in to the World Cup with three series wins, most importantly the with a win against West Indies, the defending champions which should boost their confidence.

They have in Quinton de Kock an experienced opener who can give them a blazing start. In Rassie van der Dussen, they have an ideal player who up the ante when wanted as he showed in the warm-up game against Pakistan to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. In David Miller, they have a good finisher who on his day can be devastating.

But what makes them potent is their bowling attack with Anrich Nortje and Kasigo Rabada - who had recently played the IPL in UAE and looked very good for Delhi Capitals. In Tabraiz Shamsi, they have the world No.1 T20 bowler who is a genuine matchwinner and is difficult to pick, especially his googly. What they lack is a genuine allrounder and both Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder will have a test of their character.

Before every ICC tournament, there is a question: can South Africa break the jinx this year because of the star players they had but come their first match on Saturday against Australia in Abu Dhabi, they go without any burden. If they can pull it off and go the distance, this could be a major turning point for a team which always has shown promise but faltered at the last hurdle.

- Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice-chairman of Danube Group