London: South Africa will look to shed their big tournament 'chokers' tag that has haunted them for long as they go into the first semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy against strong contenders England here on Wednesday in what promises to be a thrilling showdown.
England topped Group A and will play South Africa in the last-four stage after Sri Lanka knocked holders Australia out of the tournament with a 20-run win at The Oval last night. Sri Lanka, who finished second in Group A, will take on reigning world champions and Group B toppers India in the second semi-final at Cardiff on Thursday.
South Africa advanced to the semi-finals on superior net run-rate after their rain-marred last Group B match against the West Indies in Cardiff ended in a tie. For South Africa -- often dubbed 'chokers' for losing from promising positions -- their only ICC trophy came way back in 1998 when they won the inaugural edition of the Champions Trophy, then known as ICC Knock-Out Trophy, in Bangladesh.
Thereafter, the Proteas failed to advance beyond the semi-final stages of major tournaments despite having strong outfits. But come Wednesday, the AB de Villiers-led side would be hoping to turn the tide. South Africa witnessed a mixed outing in the group stage of the tournament. They lost their opening game to India before getting the better of Pakistan, while their last game against the West Indies ended in a tie.
However, South Africa got a shot in the arm in their last game when pace spearhead Dale Steyn returned to the playing XI after missing the opening two group encounters due to a side strain. And soon after returning, Steyn showed why he is the world's 'numero uno' pacer by emerging as the pick of the bowlers for South Africa with figures of two for 33 against the West Indies.
England: 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ravi Bopara, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 James Anderson
Sri Lanka: 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Lahiru Thirimanne, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Shaminda Eranga, 11 Lasith Malinga