Pakistan hold on for victory as South Africa's De Villiers hits healthy knock but fails when his struggling teammates need him most.
Proteas sent home from World Twenty20
South Africa will have to live with the tag of chokers for a while longer after flopping at yet another International Cricket Council event. The Proteas bowed out of the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean after losing to Pakistan by 11 runs in their final Super Eight match yesterday. It was their second defeat in three games and continues their trend of faltering on the big stage.
South Africa have just one ICC title - the 1998 Knockout Trophy. That aside, they have lost in the semi-final of three 50-over World Cups, made one quarter-final and failed to go beyond the first round at home in 2003. In World Twenty20 competitions, they were knocked out from the Super Eight at home in 2007 and reached the last-four in England last year. They have two semi-final appearances and two first round exits in the Champions Trophy.
"You just run out of excuses," said Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, in a post-match TV interview. "It's just not good enough again and just very, very disappointing. "We got a bit strangled with the bat. I thought we bowled well to restrict Pakistan, but we played tense again with the bat, lacked fluency and positivity. This has been the story of our tournament - we have struggled to get all three disciplines together in one game.
"This team, the talent that's there in South Africa, it really isn't good enough." The trouble with South Africa, as through the tournament, was their inability to force the pace at the top. Pakistan, after putting a healthy 148-7 on the board, had early success with the ball, getting Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith inside five overs with 23 on the board. Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers then struggled to pick the scoring and South Africa were left with exactly 100 to get from 10 overs. The climbing run-rate forced Kallis to shovel Saeed Ajmal to Umar Akmal at long-on. JP Duminy, the next man in, lasted only five balls and South Africa were four down for 68 in the 13th over. There were no boundaries in the South Africa innings for 50 balls, till De Villiers smacked Abdur Rehman for a four and two sixes off consecutive deliveries in the 15th over.
The 20 runs from that over had swung the pendulum South Africa's way, but De Villiers let the advantage slip with an injudicious attempt to paddle-scoop over the keeper. De Villiers could have taken a leaf out of the young Umar Akmal's defiant knock earlier in the day. Coming to bat with three wickets down for 18 and just 23 on the board at the end of seven overs, the 19-year-old added 51 invaluable runs with his elder brother Kamran to consolidate the innings.
Umar added 61 more with his captain Shahid Afridi before holing out to long-on after a fluent 33-ball 51. His clean hitting provided a much-needed impetus to the Pakistan innings and broke the shackles that South Africa had bound around them. The following Pakistan batsmen failed to build on his innings, managing just 16 runs. But Umar's knock proved enough for the bowlers to defend. De Villiers scored more than Umar, but he let the team down when they needed him the most.
* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi