South Africa's unsuccessful love with rain in ICC events

South Africa’s unsuccessful love with rain in ICC events

Rain has played spoilsport for the Proteas more than any other country in the world in big tournaments

Kagiso Rabada of South Africa
South Africa celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

South Africa’s reputation of chokers with them bottling up in pressure situations in the high-profile games has a thing to do with their own performances and also the rain, probably the Saffers’ lover. Ever since returning to the sport in 1992, their love story with rain calculations methods like the famous one by Duckworth-Lewis.

Their love blossomed when the South Africans had a pretty much chance of making into the 1992 World Cup final by defeating England in the semis but the rain and the calculators made it a mission impossible. Even playing the 6 editions of the 50-over World Cup after that, South Africa have failed to get into final each and every time, probably the highest prolific game of the sport.

As the years passed, the unsuccessful love story turned into demons and started to haunt them as the rain, revised targets and the par scores halted the South Africans to move forward in the ICC events. In a famous Sri Lanka game in 2003 World Cup, the hosts South Africa needed a win to move into Super 6s round.

At the point of the rain coming down heavily, South Africa were equal on the par score and only one ball was possible before the players went off and never came back. Their captain Shaun Pollock read the Duckworth-Lewis wrong as he mistook the DL par score as the target which will hand them a win. Mark Boucher blocked the final ball and didn’t risk for a single expecting they have won the game only to realize what actually happened later on.

Even in the recent 2015 semi-finals, South Africa had got to defend 297 over New Zealand in 43 overs after they made 281 for loss of 5 wickets in 43 overs. One could feel the revised target was unfair on the batting first side especially with the likes of AB de Villiers and JP Duminy still at the crease who could power the total over 400 even from that point. South Africa eventually lost fighting out with Grant Elliot hitting a six on the penultimate ball of the game.

The rain and the DL calculations have kept haunting them till today as South Africa lost in the previous 5 ODI games which had Duckworth-Lewis Stern method coming into the play with the rain interruptions. In fact, they have lost 8 of their last 11 ODIs which had DLS adjustments and par scores and managed to win only two of them with another game ended as a tie.

Here we look at the instances for South Africa in the ICC events where the rain and revised targets had a say:

Tournament Opposition Venue Situation at Rain interuption New Adjustment Result
1992 World Cup Pakistan Brisbane Pakistan were 74/2 after 21.3 overs chasing 212 in 50 overs Pakistan’s new target is 194 from 36 overs South Africa won by 20 runs
1992 World Cup England Melbourne England were 62/0 after 12 overs chasing 237 in 50 overs England’s new target is 226 from 41 overs England won by 3 wickets with 1 ball to spare
1992 World Cup England Sydney Semi Finals – South Africa needed 22 runs in 13 balls with 4 wickets in hand South Africa needed 21 runs from one ball England won by 19 runs
1998 Champions Trophy Sri Lanka Dhaka Semi Finals – South Africa posted 240/7 in restricted 39 overs Sri Lanka’s target was 224 in 34 overs South Africa won by 92 runs
2003 World Cup New Zealand Johannesburg New Zealand were 182/1 in 30.2 overs chasing 306 in 50 overs New Zealand’s new target is 226 from 39 overs New Zealand won by 9 wickets with 13 balls to spare
2003 World Cup Sri Lanka Durban South Africa were 229/6 after 45 overs chasing 269 in 50 overs D/L par score at 45 overs for 6 wickets loss was 229 Match Tied
2007 World Cup Ireland Providence Ireland were 21/1 in 11 overs before rain reduced the game to 35 overs South Africa’s revised target is 160. (Ireland 152/8) South Africa won by 7 wickets with 21 balls to spare
2009 Champions Trophy Sri Lanka Centurion South Africa were 206/7 after 37.4 overs chasing 319 in 50 overs D/L par score at 37.4 overs for 7 wickets loss was 262 Sri Lanka won by 55 runs
2013 Champions Trophy West Indies Cardiff West Indies were 190/6 in 26.1 overs chasing 230 in 31 overs (Pollard out on last ball before rain) D/L par score at 26.1 overs for 6 wickets loss was 190 Match Tied
2015 World Cup Pakistan Auckland Pakistan were 197/5 in 40.1 overs before rain reduced the game to 47 overs South Africa’s revised target is 232. (Pakistan 222/10) Pakistan won by 29 runs
2015 World Cup New Zealand Auckland Semi Finals – South Africa were 216/3 in 38 overs before rain reduced the game to 43 overs New Zealand’s revised target is 298. (South Africa 281/5) New Zealand won by 4 wickets with 1 ball to spare
2017 Champions Trophy Pakistan Birmingham Pakistan were 119/3 after 27 overs chasing 220 in 50 overs D/L par score at 27 overs for 3 wickets loss was 100 Pakistan won by 19 runs