An ICC tournament has never been a green land for South Africa since the time they have been a part of the extravagant championships. Brand it as their absolute misfortune or their consistent ability to ‘choke’, the Proteas have never been able to get past the semi-final at the World Cup. Even the ICC Champions Trophy has brought a similar for them.

The tribulation for South Africa started in as early as their first World Cup when a certain Kepler Wessels-led side managed to defy odds to reach the semifinals, where England were waiting. The Three Lions were restricted to 252, and South Africa came down to a point where they needed mere 22 runs from 13 deliveries. The target was well and truly in reach, but the heavenly deities had something else in store.

Rain poured in and when it came to the point that the game couldn’t be extended, umpires made the call through the ‘rain-rule’ and the Proteas were left to chase 22 off just one delivery. Who knew that was just the beginning of an outright adversity that would haunt them for more than two decades.

Come the 2019 ICC World Cup and for the countless time running, the South African team, led by Faf du Plessis, will enter the tournament as one of the favourites with a hope of getting over the ghosts of their past. The Proteas, over the years, have fielded some of the fiercest men, having the world-beaters at their disposal. But this year’s edition will bring an urge of finally bringing home the glory.

The vindication backing the aforementioned statement remains that fact that as many as two South African players – in Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir -- will be playing their final World Cup. Not to forget the similar likeliness for Hashim Amla. So, can they do what India did for Sachin Tendulkar?

AFP / Geoff Caddick

Well, for the starters, the squad seems firm as ever, at least on the paper, where their batting contingent looks like a stronghold, especially the top order. Their bowling attack, on the other hand, ooze confidence as ever and remains a primary threat for their title rivals.

In Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, the Proteas are sure to bring a paramount horror with the speed during the tenure. The spinning department led by Imran Tahir, who ended his Indian T20 League tenure as the highest wicket-taker, is further strengthened by a left-arm chinaman bowler, Tabraiz Shamsi.

And when you think the loss of Anrich Nortje would prove out to be a loss, the Proteas brought in Chris Morris, who, on his day, could be as destructible as one can think.

At the end of the day though, South Africa just can’t run away from the prefix/suffix of being the ‘chokers’. How can one forget their quarter-final bout against New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup where they went from 108/2 (while chasing mere 221) to 172 all out. How can you not remember the time when Dale Steyn – one of the finest bowlers – failed to defend 12 runs in the game’s final over against the same opponent during the 2015 World Cup semi-final.

The ultimate question, however, still remains that can they perform on the biggest stage of all? Well, if their record is anything to go by, they haven’t enjoyed successful tenures on English turfs post 2015 World Cup, winning just two of their six matches, losing their games against India, Pakistan and England.

But all these figures and statistics will be put to rest once they step on the field and begin their quest from ground zero; just like every other team.