In one dismissal, South Africa’s great World Cup fears returned. Then they exploded.
The Proteas might have lost two early wickets, but initially it was the dismissal of Quinton de Kock which got South Africa’s hearts racing again and saw their anxieties return.
While the early departures of captain Temba Bavuma for 12 and first-drop Rassie van der Dussen (two) hurt, with the destructive and unflappable de Kock at the crease South Africa remained firmly in the game.
But in one horror dismissal, South Africa’s fears returned.
After Josh Hazlewood brought his fine form from his IPL triumph into their opening World Cup match, de Kock attempted to ramp the tall, right-arm quick down to fine leg.
But the left-hander missed the ball, had it thud into his right-leg and watched the ball spurt into the air and then fall onto his stumps.
It was as if it was slow motion, with de Kock seemingly unaware where the ball was after thudding into his thigh-pad.
The dismissal was as comical as you find in cricket, but it also summed up South Africa’s nightmares at cricket World Cups where they have yet to win a major tournament in the 50 and 20 over editions.
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The wicket-keeper batter’s dismissal also continued a trend of South Africa struggling against Australia at major tournaments.
Of course their 1999 calamity against Steve Waugh’s side stands out.
But South Africa were also rocked in 2007 against Ricky Ponting’s men, where they were bowled out for 149 after electing to bat.
In their opening T20 match of the 2021 World Cup, South Africa slumped to 3-23 before some consolidation from Aiden Markram.
The decision to bowl and include Hazlewood proved an inspired decision by Australia’s selectors, who elected for a three-pace pronged attack with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. While Glenn Maxwell, asked to bowl more than usual after Australia’s selectors played only one specialist spinner in Adam Zampa, broke through in his first over, bowling Bavuma.
Two quick wickets to Zampa after a mini fightback saw South Africa slump to 7-82.
But it is what happened next that left the cricket world and its commentators perplexed and stunned by what they were witnessing, as Keshav Maharaj was run out after an initial overthrow.
Maharaj was left near the non-strikers end on his backside, having slipped over after being sent back.
The wicket evoked memories of South Africa’s extraordinary World Cup semi-final, where Allan Donald was run-out.
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