ICC Champions Trophy: Underachievers - England, South Africa - face off in first semi-final

It's the weak-kneed legacy that AB de Villiers and his side will have to cope with when they go into The Oval semifinal against England on Wednesday (June 19). Since 1992, they have played two World Cup semifinals and four in the Champions Trophy. They won it when it was played for the first time, as the ICC Knockout, in 1998. In 2000, 2002 and 2006, they made their exit at the last-four stage.

updated: June 18, 2013 22:08 IST
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London: Think of South Africa in a World Cup semifinal in England, and the mind immediately goes back to Edgbaston 1999 and the headless chicken run-out that resulted in a tie and Australia going through to the final. Think of a semifinal against England and you go back even further, to the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1992, when the scoreboard let people know that the joke of a rain rule had reduced the match to a farce. (SA's chokers tag will have no bearing on the semi-final outcome: Alastair Cook)

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Both matches are mentioned often enough to cite South Africa's horrible luck at big-ticket events. Except that luck had nothing to do with either. On both occasions, they deserved their fate, for being as soft as lemon meringues. The rain rule may have ruined the Sydney contest, but England had been denied five overs at the end of their innings because South Africa's over-rate was so appalling. Sympathy? Only if you have a warped sense of right and wrong.

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