On 25th March 2011, South Africa suffered yet another heartbreak in the World Cups as they exited the 2011 World Cup at the quarterfinal stage. With the likes of Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dale Steyn and other big names in their ranks, the Proteas were one of the strongest teams in that tournament.
But just like the previous World Cups, South Africa failed to deliver when it mattered the most. Before playing the quarterfinal, South Africa had won five of their six games including the one against co-hosts India. Unsurprisingly, they were the favourites when they locked horns against New Zealand in the third quarterfinal.
The heart-breaking exit
New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori won the toss and decided to bat first. The Black Caps lost both their openers – Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum – for just 16 runs before a 114-run stand between Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor steadied the ship. Later, New Zealand kept losing wickets at regular intervals and eventually ended on a well below par total of 221 for 8.
South Africa started their chase on a poor note and lost Amla for just 7. But they quickly recovered and were comfortably placed at 108 for 2 after 24 overs. Even when Jacques Kallis became the third South African wicket to fall, not many would have predicted that the game could turn into another contender for all-time greatest choke in World Cup history. The cricket world started sensing the choke when JP Duminy played a rash shot to throw his wicket away, leaving his side reeling at 121 for 4 in the 28th over.
South Africa could not even add another run to score when they suffered a huge blow in the very following over. Faf du Plessis called AB de Villiers through for a suicide single and ran the star batsman out. It was at this moment that New Zealand really sensed that this could be their night and they made their feelings clear by trying to intimidate du Plessis.
The night did turn out to be New Zealand’s as they made light work of South Africa’s lower-order to win the game by 49 runs. After de Villiers’ departure, the next five players could contribute only 13 runs as South Africa were all out inside 44 overs. Jacob Oram starred with the ball for New Zealand, taking four wickets while Nathan McCullum picked up three.