For South Africa, their cricketing ‘chokes’ in major ICC tournaments right from 1992 is the stuff nightmares are made up of. In every edition, they have exited the tournament in a fashion that has caused their fans plenty of hurt. When it comes to the field in major ICC tournaments, there has been only one player who has caused them plenty of grief in crucial stages of either the World Cup or the Champions Trophy. For the last six years, this player has consistently hurt South Africa on the grand stage. South Africa is gearing up for their clash against India at Southampton in the ICC Cricket World Cup and they come face-to-face with their ultimate nightmare – Shikhar Dhawan.
In contests between South Africa and India in World Cups, South Africa hold a 3-1 advantage. However, when one expands the ambit to the ICC Champions Trophy and the World T20, India hold a huge 9-4 advantage. In the last two Champions Trophies, India has won both the encounters. In the World Cup, India managed to break the South Africa jinx in the 2015 World Cup in Melbourne all because of one man, Shikhar Dhawan.
In the opening game of the 2013 Champions Trophy in Cardiff, it was Dhawan who set the tone when he smashed 114 and shared a partnership of 127 with Rohit Sharma. The duo had opened for the first time and Dhawan’s knock ensured that India not only found stability at the top but they had found two men who could cope with South Africa’s pace barrage. Dhawan’s knock helped India win by 25 runs and they went on to win the title.
In the 2015 World Cup clash in Melbourne, India had carried the baggage of history having not won their previous three encounters against South Africa in this tournament. Dhawan decided to change that fact in a comprehensive way. The left-hander blasted 137 and shared a brilliant partnership with Ajinkya Rahane who blasted 79 as India finally broke the jinx by registering a win against the Proteas for the first time in the tournament.
Dhawan would continue to hurt them in the next major ICC ODI tournament. In the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, Quinton de Kock hammered a fifty but they were restricted by the discipline of the Indian bowlers and they managed just 191 all out. Dhawan ensured that they stayed down for the count with a magnificent 78 and aided by Virat Kohli’s 76, India won by eight wickets and knocked South Africa out of the tournament.
With South Africa low on confidence with two losses and with injuries to key players, they are staring at yet another special knock from Dhawan. The left-hander, who failed in the two warm-up games, might seize his moment and deliver the knock-out blow to South Africa in a major tournament again.