They choked yet again!
South Africa [ Images ] lived up to their chokers' tag for yet another time when they lost unexpectedly to New Zealand [ Images ] in the third quarter-final of the ICC [ Images ] World Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur on Friday.
The loss kept intact South Africa's dubious record of never having won a match in the knock-out stages since they first participated in the 1992 World Cup.
With the Proteas cruising at 108 for two at one stage, chasing a modest 222, New Zealand's hopes seemed dead and buried till the former capitulated, or, shall we say, opted to be generous towards their opponents?
They collapsed to 172 all out in 43.2 overs to ensure the Black Caps an improbable win.
The South African dream of a first world title had turned into a nightmare.
The result albeit ensured New Zealand's qualification for the semi-final for the sixth time.
Friday's win was New Zealand's 18th over South Africa in ODIs, as against 30 losses. It also bolstered the Black Caps' record over the Proteas' to four wins in six matches in ICC tournaments.
The defeat was South Africa's first reverse at a venue where they won all their three previous matches. For New Zealand, it was only their second win in seven matches here.
And, suffice to say, it was a timely one.
Jacob Oram [ Images ], who bowled impressively and finished with figures of four for 39 -- besides taking two spectacular catches -- was named man-of-the-match.
Earlier, South Africa restricted New Zealand to 221 for eight.
Dale Steyn [ Images ] and Imran Tahir picked two wickets apiece.
New Zealand innings:
As has been the case for most of the tournament, South Africa opened the bowling with spin, Robin Peterson.
And the move ensured early dividend, the spinner giving his team an early breakthrough by catching Brendon McCullum [ Images ] (4) off his own bowling.
New Zealand, having elected to bat first, had lost both their openers inside the first six overs.
Jesse Ryder (83) ensured some stability with a few exquisite hits to the fence, particularly off Morne Morkel.
The 26-year-old combined well with Ross Taylor [ Images ] (43) and the two put together a 114-plus partnership for the third wicket (in 27 overs), their first such stand in eight attempts, to lay a foundation for the New Zealand innings.
In the process, Ryder reached his fifth ODI fifty, his first against South Africa, and his first in the World Cup.
Taylor, when on 24, reached the 3,000-run mark in ODIs. The 27-year-old is the 12th New Zealand batsman to score 3,000 or more runs in One Day Internationals.
Ryder, when on 61, also surpassed 1,000 ODI runs.
The duo took their time but eventually gave the New Zealand innings the foundation it required. Besides, they frustrated the South Africans to a considerable extent.
However, just when New Zealand looked have a stranglehold on the match, Imran Tahir struck.
Rather it was Taylor's extravagance that cost him his wicket. The 27-year-old, having swept Peterson for maximum, tried the same off Tahir and only succeeded in holing out to Kallis at deep square leg.
Taylor's 72-ball knock included one hit to the fence and one over it.
Scott Styris [ Images ] (16) hit a few exquisite boundaries before edging a Morkel delivery on to his stumps.
An over later, Ryder hit a Tahir delivery straight to substitute Colin Ingram at deep midwicket.
Ryder's 121-ball knock was inclusive of eight hits to the fence.
His dismissal slowed down things a bit before Kane Williamson [ Images ] hit Peterson for a maximum over long-on in the second ball of the batting power play -- taken in the 44th over.
Steyn though had Nathan McCullum (6) caught by Duminy at backward point in the next over for his second wicket.
Morkel, despite being expensive, came back to clean up both Jacob Oram (7) and Daniel Vettori [ Images ] (6).
Kane Williamson remained unbeaten on 38.
The New Zealand team managed just 37 runs in the batting powerplay at the cost of three wickets.
South Africa innings:
New Zealand made an early breakthrough, dismissing Hashim Amla [ Images ] (7) dismissed in the first over.
It was a freak dismissal. Amla's intended cut hit McCullum's foot before Vettori caught it off the rebound.
South Africa's captain failed to keep down a wide delivery from Oram and substitute Jamie How made no mistake at backward point.
Kallis and AB de Villiers [ Images ] (35) put on 39 runs for the third wicket before a spectacular catch by Oram at deep midwicket ensured the dismissal of the former.
Kallis's 75-ball 47 was inclusive of three boundaries.
Then followed the spectacular South African batting collapse.
JP Duminy [ Images ] (3) was cleaned up by Nathan McCullum, and, two balls later, De Villiers ended up short of his crease.
Then Oram came back to strike twice. First he rattled Johan Botha's (2) stumps with a beautiful length ball and then had Robin Peterson (0) caught behind.
The Proteas had collapsed from a comfortable 108 for two to a disastrous 132 for seven.
The writing was on the wall thereafter.
Another spectacular catch by Oram, at point this time, sent Steyn (8) back to the pavilion. It helped McCullum finish with spectacular figures of three for 24.
Faf du Plessis (36) tried to wage a lone battle even as South Africa took the batting powerplay (39-43 overs).
Oram, who had a great day on the field, dropped a difficult chance off his own bowling and Du Plessis expressed his gratitude by hitting the next ball over deep extra cover for a maximum.
However, Oram had the last laugh just three balls later, having the batsman caught by Southee at cover point.
And when Woodcock had Morne Morkel (3) caught by How in the deep, it was all over for South Africa.
For New Zealand, it is a trip back to Colombo, to play what will be a sixth World Cup semi-final.
Will they make it to the final this time?
That question will be answered come Tuesday.
Photograph: Getty Images