2007 (Hosts) – crashed out in Super 8 stage with loss to India
2009 – Semifinalists, lost to eventual Champions Pakistan
2010 – Exit in Super 8 stages
2012 – Exit in Super 8 stages again
2014 – Lost to India in semifinals
Evidently, South Africa – perennial under-performers in ICC World tournaments – have never reached a World T20 final, much like they’ve never reached a World Cup (ODI) final. Their players have practiced their trades across all T20 tournaments in the world, but one way to look at it is that even their very best, AB de Villiers, has never won an IPL tournament with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Somehow, all of them have a knack of not winning the crunch moments – and it’s a disease they pass on to their domestic teams. Make no mistake, they have the best batsmen and hitters in world cricket, but as a team, they have somehow failed to cross that last hurdle.
This time, they will be led by Francois du Plessis, de Villiers’ old schoolmate and friend.
The current squad traveling to India will have little time to acclimatize after playing a quickie T20 series against Australia at home (both, never having won in this format). Like most other years, they look formidable on paper, but have had a few nagging issues coinciding with their Test downfall. The middle order, to be bolstered by JP Duminy, David Miller and Farhaan Behardien, looks a bit shaky with all of them out of form and in search of some confidence. Duminy, especially, has disappointed during the England series, despite his heroics as captain of the Delhi Daredevils last year. Du Plessis himself looks shaky in the top order, with only Amla, de Villiers and de Kock the in-form batsmen for them. Also, their spin attack will heavily rely on Imran Tahir again, a bowler who can be expensive as a wicket taker.
Chris Morris, the new million dollar man in Indian T20 league cricket, has been finishing off matches consistently for them in the last month. Twice, he thwarted England in the final over to win the series. He is also a handy bowler. Kagiso Rabada is the best young pace bowler in world cricket, and he has been lethal over the last 6 months. Kyle Abbott has been consistent and menacing, but he needs more job security, having been dropped more often than he is picked. There is no Morne Morkel, who struggles a bit with the shortest format in T20 internationals. Their bench strength is decent – with the likes of Miller, Rossouw and David Wiese always looking for a spot in the 11. Needless to mention, their fielding on Indian grounds will be a sight to behold – though many suspect that one of their top batsmen will retire from T20 cricket at the end of this tournament.
X-Factor: Quinton De Kock
The young, talented wicketkeeper looks good again after a horrid 2015 World Cup, and seems to have rediscovered his timing and confidence. A lot will depend on him on these pitches – and a good start is exactly what South Africa need, considering the form of Francois and others down the order.
South Africa find themselves in the same group as West Indies, Sri Lanka, England and a qualifier (most likely Afghanistan or UAE). They will fancy their chances to end in the top 2 – considering Sri Lanka’s terrible form and England’s recent losses. An unpredictable star-studded West Indies side will be the team to beat, for starters.