Image source– Proteas Men Twitter/ X handle (ICC/ Getty)

The thing with Sport is that it provides elation and despair in equal measure. The emotions runs high when your fancied team wins the match and also when it falls short of being on the right side of the  match. 

The 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup culminated in an epic final between South Africa and India, two of the most formidable teams in the tournament. The match was a rollercoaster of emotions, with both sides showcasing their skills and determination. In the end, India emerged victorious by a narrow margin, leaving South Africa heartbroken but proud of their valiant effort.

While there is much ecstasy and elation in the whole of India and deservingly so after winning there second T20 World Cup, one does feel for the South Africans who were tantalisingly close of winning there first ever World Cup. 

For years – South Africa in ICC events finds itself with a team that can outperform anyone and everyone, but alas the familiar story keeps repeating itself of being so close and yet so far. 

This time though, things seemed different, they came the closest that they’ve ever been to holding a World Cup trophy. 

At one stage, the proteas needed 30 runs in 30 balls with 6 wickets in hand. This situation meant, there was only one winner realistically possible at that stage – the batting side. After that, what transpired can only be termed as a starry dream for India and a nightmare for the Proteas. 

Jasprit Bumrah, a reliable and an all-weather aide for any captain, bowled two overs, conceding only four runs each. In the remaining three overs, Arshdeep Singh and Hardik Pandya bowled with immense intent and determination, delivering game-changing moments. Suryakumar Yadav’s alertness and alacrity at the boundary was equally dramatic. Against all odds, India seized a seven-run victory from the cusp of defeat.

The psychological burden of the knockout stages and the final seemed to affect South Africa’s performance time and time again. The weight of expectations, combined with past near misses in ICC tournaments, appeared to impact their ability to perform at their best when it mattered most.

In the hindsight, India deserved to win because they handled the stresses of the situation better and, consequently, played better cricket. But, did South Africa deserve to loose ? The game was there to be won, until it wasn’t. 

But all said and done, South Africa performed exceedingly well through out the World Cup not loosing a single match except the all important final. In being so consistent, the proteas have made there fans back home proud and truth be told, had they won it, perhaps even the Indian cricket fan would not have hated them or subjected them to the displeasure that is usually being preserved in truckloads for England and Australia, still very much the arch rivals of India. 

This is a new South African team that seems absolutely unafraid of anyone, which is a fact they showed even in games where they beat one time T20 World Cup winners England and 2 time T20 World Cup winners West Indies. 

It’s a team that if you think about it has beaten World Cup winners but are themselves still without a World Cup. 

Without a World Cup it may be, but it is one that has played a brand of cricket that deserves respect and as seen ultimately emerged second best only to India. 

The 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was a tale of what-ifs and near misses for the South African cricket team. Despite their valiant efforts and moments of brilliance, they fell just short of their ultimate goal. As they reflect on their journey and look ahead, the Proteas will aim to learn from their experiences, strengthen their resolve, and return stronger in pursuit of their maiden T20 World Cup title.

It may very well be that South Africa’s moment to shine on the world stage will arrive sooner rather than later, taking the gloom of despair and turning it into a much deserved ecstasy. 


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