Power, pace and pitch finally propel Proteas to T20 World Cup final

Published Jun 27, 2024


Zaahier Adams

The long wait is finally over.

The Proteas Men’s team have ended 32-years of heartbreak in the most spectacular fashion to advance to their first-ever World Cup final.

After all the previous nightmarish experiences, this ICC T20 World Cup semi-final in Trinidad and Tobago was scripted in the realms of fantasy for the Proteas.


From the very first over, when Marco Jansen had Afghanistan’s talisman Rahmanullah Gurbaz caught at slip by Reeza Hendricks, it was an unequal contest. The bowling was compelling: fast, accurate with a hint of swing. The Proteas seamers brought their A-game to the biggest match of their careers.

And so did spinner Tabraiz Shamsi with Afghanistan routed for just 56 – their lowest total ever in T20I’s and the lowest in a T20 World Cup semi-final.

Afghanistan simply had no answer. They have illuminated this T20 World Cup the past fortnight, but the occasion – their first-ever World Cup semi-final- was just a bridge too far. But Thursday morning (SA time) was not about Afghanistan’s failures. This was the Proteas’ time to shine.

On a fresh surface that provided exaggerated movement throughout, Jansen, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje unleashed a torrent of pace and hostility that Afghanistan could simply not contend with.

If this was a heavyweight boxing encounter, the referee would have called it off at the conclusion of the Powerplay already with Jansen’s two hard-hitting blows, along with Rabada’s uppercuts and finally Nortje’s jab flooring Afghanistan as they slumped to 28/5.

Wrist-spinner Shamsi ensured their would be no holding on to he ropes as he landed he knockout punches with the spellbinding figures of 3/6 in 1.3 overs.

Although the Proteas enjoyed a perfect run to the semi-final with seven consecutive victories, there were nervous moments throughout, and taking into account their history in World Cup semi-finals, there was still doubt at the interval that the promised land of Barbados would be reached.

Marco Jansen was award the Player of the Match honour for his 3/16 effort. | IANS

And when Quinton de Kock was clean bowled early on, attempting to walk down the pitch, the butterflies seemed to flutter just a little bit more. But those fears were all related to PTSD. This was the night the “Cricket Gods” would finally shine all its glory on the Proteas.

This was exemplified when Afghanistan failed to call for a review when Proteas captain Aiden Markram edged the ball behind. The irrepressible Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan believed he had heard something, but none of his teammates concurred and the Proteas were left off the hook.

From thereon, the passage to Kensington Oval on Saturday for the grandshow piece was smooth sailing. Markram and Reeza Hendricks stifled all the fire and brimstone had left to muster and they calmly took the Proteas home by nine wickets with 67 balls remaining.

And almost just like the fairytale this proved to be, it was fitting that Hendricks, who has endured so much criticism for his lean returns during the T20 World Cup, struck the winning runs with two sweetly-timed boundaries.

“It feels good,” an elated Markram said after the match.

“It's a massive squad effort. Really chuffed for us to have one more crack at lifting that trophy. Fortunate to have lost that toss – we also would've batted. The bowlers got it in the right areas and kept it really simple in these conditions

“It was quite tough for batters but we knew it was a matter of partnership. We had a bit of luck and managed to get a bit of a partnership.

“There are a lot of people waking up with a little bit more grey hair, but this (comprehensive) win will be more comforting for them. We've never been there (final) before, but there's a lot of belief. It takes a full squad to put together a really good game of cricket.”

The Proteas will know who their T20 World Cup final opponents are later on Thursday when India face England in the second semi-final. That match starts at 4.30pm.


Afghanistan: 56 all out

Jansen 3/16, Shamsi 3/6, Rabada 2/14, Nortje 2/7

South Africa: 60/1

Hendricks 29*, Markram 23*

South Africa won by nine wickets

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