South Africa will be looking to end one of the strangest jinxes in all of sports in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals.
The Proteas have the second-best winning percentage in the history of One Day Internationals, the format used in the World Cup. They also have the second-best record in World Cup group-stage matches, and in both categories they barely trail Australia.
Yet despite reaching the playoff stages in five of the six World Cups it has entered — the exception was 2003, when it was host — South Africa has yet to win a knockout match. It has been just as unsuccessful at the World Twenty20 tournaments, too.
South Africa’s run of upset defeats started in 1992, when it rejoined the international sports community and played in the World Cup the only other time it was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
In earlier World Cups, South Africa often was an unstoppable force in the group stage. This year it has lost to India and Pakistan in the group stage and only took second through the tiebreaker, net run rate, after inflicting massive defeats on weaker teams. They then roared back against Sri Lanka in the first quarterfinal with the kind of energetic, purposeful showing that made their rivals slightly nervous.
South Africa lie in wait in Auckland for a semifinal epic against New Zealand that will send one country through to their first final on Tuesday.