Nottingham, June 18: South Africa go into their World Twenty20 semi-final against Pakistan on Thursday confident they have ditched their reputation as chokers.
The South Africans have regularly failed to take opportunities to reach finals and semi-finals and to close out Test series from winning positions but coach Mickey Arthur said he believed this team was different.
"We could get beaten tomorrow, and then again the chokers tag might surface," Arthur told reporters on Wednesday. "But for us, that`s not an issue. As long as we are playing the game to the best of our ability and we are not panicking in the crucial situations, we`re not scared of losing.""The guys have been put in these situations over the last 18 months and have come through with flying colours. Mentally, our team is very, very strong and ready to go to another level."
South Africa needed only 126 to beat India on run rate at the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup and make the semi-finals but they fell 10 runs short.
In the 50-over World Cup the same year they were thrashed by Australia in the semi-finals after trying to change their tactics.
In 1999 in England they tied with Australia in the World Cup semi-final after panicking in the final over, crashing out on a technicality when they were favourites to progress.
But they have been working to ensure they stay cool in pressure situations with the appointment of Englishman Jeremy Snape as high performance manager, specialising in psychology, an example of their attention to detail.
Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, a survivor of the 1999 tied match, joked that Snape "has been on my couch a couple of times".
He said the former England player has developed a mantra called the "three-second chill" which is designed to help players compose themselves at pressure moments.
"We have been in a couple of semis before, but there is a different feeling this time," said Boucher. "We have a different management, different players -- and we`ve been through a lot of tests in the last year that we`ve come through."
"We`ve handled pressure pretty well and we hope that`s a sign of things to come in the latter stages of this tournament."
Jacques Kallis, rested for the match against India on Tuesday because of a sore back, should return at Trent Bridge.
First Published: Thursday, June 18, 2009, 09:40