Although it is an inconsequential match from the standpoint of the foregone conclusion of the semifinalists for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, given the context in which the two teams played the last time in a World Cup scenario in England, Imran Tahir’s South Africa are more emotionally loaded in their bow out match.
Imran Tahir brings a significant chapter of South Africa’s cricket history to rest after deciding to retire at the end of South Africa’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign. As it turns out, South Africa lost out on contention from the very outset and as a result, will now have the ignominy of playing Australia in their final round robin match.
Not only are South Africa playing Australia for the first time since the infamous sandpaper gate in Cape Town in March, 2019, but also, it will be in a situation which has completely upset the apple cart. South Africa will be fighting for redemption while Australia will be asserting domination as they have right through their World Cup campaign, barring the match against India.
The memory of South Africa playing Australia in a terse semi-final in the 1992 edition that ended in a tie, with Australia going through on the fact that they beat South Africa in the previous round, continues to rankle, now with greater pain and raw emotion. Australia went onto to lift the World Cup. But South Africa have struggled ever since to live down the emotional fracas and labels that ensued that very disturbing loss. Now it would seem they would do anything to have a history even close to their run in the 1999 edition.
Those memories, re-ignited by the World Cup returning to England, have become now a distant mirage as South Africa have not even come close to contesting for a place in the semi-final, let alone rewrite history. What will be even worse is the fact that South Africa will go into the final match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 knowing that they have no chance but to cop humiliation and pray for a good showing.
In that light, once again, the end of a career of a player like Imran Tahir, who brought his spin skills over from Pakistan to debut for South Africa in 2011 at the age of thirty-two to now retire at forty years of age with 172 wickets from over one hundred one day internationals calls to light the very real problem facing South Africa cricket where they possess match winning talent but are unable to convert it into a cohesive team performance capable of overturning their World Cup fortunes and history.
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