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T20 World Cup 2024: South Africa's journey to first WC final

T20 World Cup 2024: South Africa's incredible journey to first World Cup final. Highlights of South Africa's campaign to T20 WC final 2024.

T20 World Cup 2024: South Africa's journey to first WC final | Walking Wicket (Source_ ©Twitter_X)
South Africa's journey to first WC final (Source: ©Twitter/X)

The dream run of Afghanistan in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024 concluded with a loss in the semifinal to South Africa. On the other hand, it was a dream come true for the Proteas as they made their way to the final of the marquee event.


Over the years, the team struggled to go past the semi-finals or knockout stages as they faltered in crunch situations. They were also labelled as ‘chokers’ by the cricket fraternity for bottling up in the crucial times. However, this time around they created history by breaking the semi-final jinx.


Brilliant Captaincy from Aiden Markram

Under the astute leadership of Aiden Markram, who assumed the captaincy reins from Temba Bavuma, South Africa led a campaign that would redefine their cricketing narrative. Markram's captaincy record in the tournament spoke volumes; unbeaten throughout. The Proteas claimed victory in all eight matches, navigating seamlessly from the group stages to the Super Eights and ultimately, to the seminal clash against Afghanistan in the semi-finals. They had also triumphed over semi-finalists England during the Super Eight stage, underlining their mettle against top-tier opposition.


Markram's temperament as a leader wasn't born overnight but honed through previous wins. His earlier tenure as the captain of the South African Under-19 team, which clinched the 2014 U19 World Cup, and subsequent success with the Sunrisers Eastern Cape in the SA20 league emphasises on his capacity to inspire and lead on the cricketing field.



Bowlers led the way for SA

Apart from the brilliant show of captaincy, the bowling unit came to the rescue every time when the team needed support. South Africa bowlers have been winning them last-over thrillers, match after nerve-jangling match in the marquee tournament.


The Proteas have been receiving praises for their bowling performances in the tournament from across the cricket fraternity. From right-arm pacer Kagiso Radaba to left-arm China man Tabrez Shamsi, South Africa have been scintillating throughout. Even in the semi-final, it was the South Africa bowlers who wreaked havoc on the Afghanistan batters and left no passage back for them. Marco Jansen (3/16), Kagiso Rabada (2/14) and Anrich Nortje (2/7) ripped the soul out of the Afghanistan top-order, reducing them to 28 for five inside the powerplay, and eventually their innings folded in just 11.5 overs.


In the post-match presentation ceremony, Markram even credited the entire team for the performance so far in the marquee tournament. Markram admitted that it is not just him but the whole team who are equally responsible for their unbeaten run in the mega-event till now. "Feels good. It's not only the captain that gets you here but also a massive squad effort. Plenty of guys behind the scenes as well. Fortunate to have lost the toss, we would have batted too. We were brilliant with the ball, got it in the right areas, and kept it simple. The bowlers have been incredible for us," the South Africa skipper said.


T20 World Cup 2024_ South Africa's several close wins make choker's tag a thing of the past_ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©ICC_X)
Aiden Markram has led South Africa to the WC final (Source: ©ICC/X)
Journey so far in ICC T20 World Cup 2024

The journey to the final was laden with moments of high drama and resilience, showcasing South Africa's ability to thrive under pressure. From early encounters with Netherlands and a nail-biting victory over Bangladesh, to a tense battle against a spirited Nepal side, the Proteas consistently found themselves in precarious situations but emerged victorious through a combination of skill and nerve. These challenges only served to fortify their resolve, setting the stage for more significant tests ahead.


Their Super Eight clash against co-hosts USA typified their grit and determination. Despite a formidable target, South Africa faced a spirited challenge from South Africa-born Andries Gous, whose scintillating innings threatened to upset their campaign. Yet, in a display of tactical acumen and disciplined bowling, spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada, they regained control and secured a crucial win.


The defining moment of their campaign came against defending champions England in a pulsating encounter in St. Lucia. In a match that swung back and forth, South Africa found themselves on the ropes before a collective effort from Rabada, Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortje turned the tide in their favour. This victory not only solidified their standing but also underscored their ability to thrive in high-stakes scenarios.


However, perhaps their most telling triumph came in a do-or-die Super Eight clash against West Indies. Facing a daunting run chase, South Africa initially seemed poised for a routine victory. Yet, spirited bowling and relentless pressure from the West Indies brought the match to a knife-edge, with Rovman Powell's men tightening the screws. It took a display of nerve from Rabada and a crucial contribution from the towering figure of Jansen to steer South Africa across the finish line and into the semi-finals.


The semi-final encounter against Afghanistan was anticipated as a stern test of South Africa's credentials. Yet, under Markram's steady leadership, they delivered a clinical performance, chasing down a modest target with much ease. The emphatic nine-wicket victory not only secured their place in the final but also served notice of their intent to claim the ultimate prize.


Looking ahead to the final showdown at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, South Africa find themselves on the cusp of history. Whether pitted against the formidable might of India or the familiar challenge of England, Markram's men stand ready to seize the moment.


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