Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Here comes the rain: Proteas deserve a bit of luck in World Cup semi-final

If play is not possible on Thursday and Friday, due to rain, South Africa will automatically progress to the final.

It’s something no team can really prepare for, but the weather may play a significant role in Thursday’s Cricket World Cup semi-final between South Africa and Australia if the most dreaded of all cricket match spoilers is unleashed: persistent rain.

The forecast in Kolkata is ‘cloudy with a chance of rain’ and this could mean the South Africans are clouded themselves, swamped by memories of the country’s forgettable past at the global showpiece.

Playing in the 50-over World Cup semi-finals for the fifth time, the Proteas will be aiming to reach the nation’s maiden final.

The weather, however, raises concerns in terms of their potential to finally shake off the ‘chokers’ tag they don’t want and have never truly deserved.

Poor luck and bad maths

Looking back, it has often been luck and silly mishaps which have determined their fate at the quadrennial showpiece. And sometimes, it has been determined by the weather.

On debut in 1992, they were knocked out by England in brutal fashion. Requiring 22 runs from 13 balls, they returned from a rain delay needing an impossible 22 runs from one delivery.

In 2003, on home soil, they were eliminated in the group stages after embarrassingly miscalculating their rain-affected target in their last match of the opening round against Sri Lanka.

Hoping for rain

Ironically, however, if it rains too much in Kolkata on Thursday, as well as Friday’s reserve day (when the chance of rain is expected to increase), the Proteas will automatically progress to the final without a ball being bowled.

Thanks to their aggressive approach to the tournament, if the semi-final cannot be played on either day, South Africa will qualify for the trophy contest with a better net run-rate than Australia.

So they won’t want rain to disrupt their progress, as it has done in the past, but they won’t be too upset if it rains so much they can’t even play.

Lifting the trophy on Sunday is the goal, and considering how many times they’ve missed out due to the weather in the past, they can’t be criticised for celebrating if some luck finally goes their way.

Read more on these topics

Cricket World Cup proteas cricket team

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits