Aakash Chopra
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Aakash Chopra looks at various aspects of cricket from a player's perspective

When a choke isn't a choke

South Africa losing the plot against New Zealand was more panic than choke. There is a difference

Aakash Chopra

April 7, 2011

Comments: 113 | Text size: A | A

Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori react as JP Duminy is bowled, New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd quarter-final, Mirpur, World Cup 2011, March 25, 2011
JP Duminy's attempt to cut a straight delivery was a case of panic setting in © Associated Press
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South Africa's capitulation against New Zealand has brought the c-word out again. Nothing seems to have changed for them in big tournaments ever since they came back to international cricket after the apartheid era. They have always had the arsenal to go all the way and yet have fallen short, always in the knock-out stages. Not a single win in knock-out games in a World Cup is a record they'd give both their arms and legs to change.

While their record cannot be contested, whether they choked or not against New Zealand can be debated. There's a fundamental difference between choking and panicking, which the writer Malcolm Gladwell explains quite proficiently. While Gladwell talks in the context of tennis, his theory explains choking in cricket too.

What happened to South Africa against New Zealand in Mirpur was a bad case of panic, though it was conveniently considered a choke. So what exactly is choking and how is it different from panicking?

The fundamental difference is that while you think too much when you choke, you think too little when you panic. While choking, you want to delay the inevitable, but when you panic you want to get over with it as soon as possible, for you can't bear the growing pressure.


You play safe You may finish 30 runs short of the target if the opposition bowls really well and you lose all your wickets in the bargain. On the other hand, if you get to the 50th over needing 40 runs with five wickets in the hut, that's more of a problem. Some may call it a miscalculation but it really comes down to the mindset: to play safe for as long as possible.

South Africa have done this more times than any other team. Remember the tied game against Australia, when Allan Donald was run out? The match would have finished much earlier had Kallis and Co. not allowed Mark Waugh to bowl a lot of overs in the middle.

Chasing a target is a lot about identifying threats and weak links in the opposition and then treading with caution against potential threats while going after the weak links. Playing in safe mode can take you only so far; you must change gears at some point.

You don't take calculated risks Yuvraj Singh could easily have dabbed the ball towards third man instead of going over the point fielder against Brett Lee in the quarter-final in Ahmedabad. Going aerial may look dicey to some but it is extremely important to take calculated risks when you're playing strong opposition. If you wait forever for things to happen, chances are you won't be there when they do. When you refuse to take these calculated risks, you run the risk of digging a hole for the team, i.e. choking.

Chasing a target is a lot about identifying threats and weak links in the opposition and then treading with caution against potential threats while going after the weak links. Playing in safe mode can take you only so far; you must change gears at some point
You think too much "When thinking goes deep, decisions go weak" is an old saying and it describes choking perfectly. Sport is more about instinct than intellect. Intellect is the primary requirement while planning but once the game starts, instinct must take over. You are more likely to succeed when you react, not over-think, for there's hardly any time to think too much.

When you over-think, you tend to think about how things can go wrong, and so you stop trusting your instincts. When you think before every step you take, you end up walking too slow. If you keep thinking about the possibility of getting stumped, you will never be able to go down the track.

Playing an aggressive shot is, most times, about backing yourself and trusting your instincts to go through with it. But the fear of what may happen if the shot is mistimed, or the ball bounces a bit more or less than expected, can result in a defensive prod. This is choking at a micro level.

I've also found that teams and individuals who are more inclined to technique than flair are more likely to choke. Their strategic and technical know-how tell them to play it safe. On the contrary, people who have a healthy mix of technique with flair - say, Pakistan - are less likely to choke.


You commit hara-kiri Panic is, in fact, the exact opposite of choking. If you play it too safe for too long when you choke, you self-destruct in fast-forward when you panic. What happened to South Africa in Mirpur was a straightforward case of panicking. There were no demons in the track and the New Zealand attack wasn't all that formidable. South Africa were cruising at 108 for 2 at the halfway stage but once they lost a couple of wickets, panic set in. When you start trying to take non-existent singles (the AB de Villiers run-out), start manufacturing shots when you only need to play percentage cricket (JP Duminy's dismissal), play reckless shots despite having a set batsman at the other end (Dale Steyn's and Robin Peterson's dismissals), it's a sign the team has lost it.

You abandon rational thought You think too much while choking and too little when you panic. You may need to score a run a ball, but somehow it feels a lot more than that. A couple of dot balls are followed up by a high-risk shot to ease the pressure. When you panic you tend to overestimate the pressure. A run a ball, with wickets in hand, is like walking in the park on most days, but not when you're panicking. Rational thinking deserts you the moment you panic.

Why did Bangladesh play silly shots when wickets were tumbling all around them against South Africa? It's common sense that if you're four down for not many, you must drop anchor, but they did exactly the opposite and tried playing ambitious shots. A six or a four can't win you the game, but you don't think along those lines when you panic.

Fear takes hold When you choke, you fear making mistakes, and subsequently you fail. When you panic, it is the prospect of failure that you fear, which leads to committing mistakes. The fear of failure cripples you so much that you self-destruct and bring about the failure you fear.

AB de Villiers dives to avoid being run out, New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd quarter-final, Mirpur, World Cup 2011, March 25, 2011
AB de Villiers was in self-destruct mode when he took off for a non-existent single and got run out © Associated Press

Panic has a domino effect. It is like an epidemic that spreads through the team, while choking can be restricted to a couple of batsmen in the middle. Once panic sets in, it's quite apparent and visible to everyone, including the players in question, but choking goes unnoticed till the eventual calamity is at the door.

If I may draw an analogy from tennis: when a player chokes, he keeps hitting safe shots, bang in the middle of the court, ensuring they miss the net and are well inside the baseline, hoping the opponent will make a mistake. When the same player panics, he goes for non-existing winners, resulting in enforced errors.

The outcomes of choking and panicking may be the same but both are different from each other. So the next time you see a team lay down their arms, it might be worth looking closely to see if they have choked or panicked under pressure.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by   on (April 9, 2011, 20:33 GMT)

I supported SA through out, even I went on to tell my friends this time SA is not going to choke and they will be the winners, If they choke I said Iam not going to support them any more. But still I support them though they lost truly they are good a good side support.

Posted by WCdan59 on (April 9, 2011, 3:48 GMT)

I think this is very well written. "Choking" in a traditional sense is just to say a team lost a game they should have won, but I never thought to differentiate between panicking and choking during the match itself. Of course it's an entirely subjective debate, but differentiating between the two provides an insight into two vastly different 'methods of losing' (i guess you could say) games that shouldn't be lost. Kudos.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2011, 20:01 GMT)

Very well posted... Actually, I've read the Malcolm Gladwell article, when I read the book 'What The Dog Saw' which republished the New Yorker article and the moment I saw South Africa losing that match that way, I said to myself, "Now that's panic !" I'm a sportsman myself and I've tried to analyze what exactly happens when we choke or panic and I know, when I play Table Tennis, I can't get my shots going, I play safe, I know I choke. When this happens, even the solitary drive, smash or loop I go for falls either on the net or goes beyond the table, while I panic when I lose three points in a row when leading which makes me try innovative things. However, when one is in a position of having nothing to lose, chances of choke or panic creeping through are minimal. Indeed, that's what makes India's Cup win so amazing as they had everything to lose but still managed to hold on.... Awesome ! Great article ! Keep it up !

Posted by AnkurTyagi on (April 8, 2011, 19:21 GMT)

S.Af lost to Nz --choking!!!!! S.Af chased 400+ against Aus and won the series 3-2...??? what you call this..??? they are the second best side in cricket today..thats the truth ..accept it.!!!:)

Posted by   on (April 8, 2011, 13:43 GMT)

NZ is a better team - hahahaha - I almost choked on my lunch. And I don't think Kiwi rugby should be brought up in the context of choking....

Posted by   on (April 8, 2011, 13:39 GMT)

Slow day at the office, Akash?

Posted by Manzar_Alam on (April 8, 2011, 13:11 GMT)

well going by this def of Choke then Pakistan choked against India as there middle order was do defensive esp Misbah no calculated risk taken all bowlers were allowed to settle and delaying the powerplay...

Posted by Bala74 on (April 8, 2011, 12:10 GMT)

Not entirely true.... Choke and Panic are mutually exclusive. One follows the other. You first choke, the runs dry out, the asking rate shoots, then you begin to panic and go for high-risk shots or non-existant singles. Choking is when your top/middle-order is unable to score, not when your lower order to unable to score even at 5rpo (they are called lower order, for a reason). In other words, if panic leads to a top-order collapse, the inability of the lower order collapse must not be categorised as a choke. Finally, it doesnt matter, whether it is a choke or a panic - Everbody loves to critise SA with it.

Posted by CricketFreud on (April 8, 2011, 11:25 GMT)

u want to really understand the meaning of choke.. this article helps you out very well.. seriously.. SA should read this article.. if they reach the end of it, i guess they would hve finally overcome choking..

Posted by zn264 on (April 8, 2011, 10:28 GMT)

New Zealand are just a better cricket team, and rugby team for that matter.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2011, 9:19 GMT)

South Africa should've won and they didn't. You can analyse it all you want but at the end of the day they should have won that game and didn't. And I call that a Choke. I doesn't matter whether they were too aggressive or too defensive or whatever other reason. A Choke is a choke. I don't think that this explanation of it will make any difference to how a South African supporter feels....

Posted by   on (April 8, 2011, 8:20 GMT)

Akash, You don't have to look at the definition of chocking.

Here is why S.A is called chokers - Most of the time they fail to deliver when there is a lot of pressure on them. It doesn't really matter what's the cause of that failure. They may or may not choke literally , but since they fail to deliver they are chokers.

They have brought this tag to themselves.

I really thank the south africa team for losing in the Quarters. They were the only team I was scared of. They were the only team that could have defeated India.

When S.A lost in Quarters , I felt for their players but at the same time I was really happy because that result made sure that India will be Champions.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2011, 6:48 GMT)

nice article....but SA needs to prove a point....and until they do so.....ppl will call it chokin...evrytime they lose close games...evn if they did their best.....SA must win a world cup....preferably the next one...

Posted by CharmsDPM on (April 8, 2011, 6:07 GMT)

While I agree with the analysis (from what ever I read), if you had read this article (which is over analysis) in full you may come under choker group!

Posted by dhurandhar007 on (April 8, 2011, 4:46 GMT)

Aakash's next article: When a heart attack is not a heart attack but is a cardiac arrest!

Posted by sara2a on (April 8, 2011, 4:44 GMT)

Akash has done a very fine, subtle pshycological analysis, and it is absolutely true. Choking and panicking are different, although on the surface both might look the same, and the end result is that the team will lose, be it panic or choke...Great analysis, but this time it has not received the usual praise from the readers comments as the previous articles of Akash..!!! Anyway, thanks Akash for touching very fine aspects of cricket, and i really enjoy reading your articles...

Posted by   on (April 8, 2011, 2:22 GMT)

hey supa silly saffa how you can say south africa tie n loss in the semis to australia is not a choke is so funny its the two best cases of choking in cricket history south africa should have won both games easily but crumbled under the pressure like they always do.have and will continue to

Posted by scripted on (April 8, 2011, 1:46 GMT)

about halfway into the article, I choked and gave up reading. or maybe I panicked.

Posted by kasablur on (April 8, 2011, 1:45 GMT)

@ Supa_SAFFA

Actually...New Zealand were technically superior to South Africa. The South African batsmen played the stupid, technically lacking, shots and attempted that ridiculous run. I agree that South Africa's choking mentality is given too much credit for their world cup but they were beaten by a dide who played better and smarter cricket than them. Fullstop.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2011, 0:55 GMT)

I find this article meaningless, the fact is, South Africa have not won a single major ICC tournament. You can word it the way you want, SA 'CHOKED'

Posted by RoshanF on (April 8, 2011, 0:16 GMT)

Sorry Supa_ S , 1999 was a choke/panic alright. Needing just 1 run in 04 balls Donald is almost run out off the 3rd ball and then Klusener in TOTAL control until then goes for a non existent run off the 4th and Donald is run out by a country mile. That was a CHOKE. And yes 2003 misreading calculations was not a choke, BUT they were NOT in control of the game, at least not well into the rain. Sri Lanka had them 'choking' or whatever with Murali creating rings around them and then the rain started falling and gripping the ball became very difficult and only then did Boucher start to hit the ball with any confidence. Today those who talk about that blunder point to South Africa's misfortune but nobody ever says that it was through pure luck ie, rain, that helped them to get anywhere near the target.

Posted by iamgroot on (April 7, 2011, 23:49 GMT)

From what I understand.. It is the bowling side that can CHOKE the batting side and stop them from making runs..and PANIC.. It is the batting side that can cause PANIC attack on the bowling side... BATTING TEAM can be CHOKED and BOWLING TEAM can only panic... for example.. SA had a modest target but they were CHOKED by NZ bowlers and they couldn't approach the chase properly when the runs dried up with some brillant fielding from NZ..sO SA got CHOKED while batting and NZ applied that CHOKE.. another example..in INDIA vs PAkistan ..Pakistan were chasing and they started brilliantly but slowly DHONI and INDIAN TEAM applied CHOKE and suffocated misbah and others..MISBAH just couldnt break lose until the ending by that time it was all over.. example for PANIC..England vs Ireland..Ireland were chasing..and England ripped first 5 wickets but later k O brien started hitting brutally and ENGLAND PANICKED.and lost that game..and since SA repeated this kind of performance quiet often they CHOKED

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 23:30 GMT)

I get the feeling someone likes the sound of their own voice.

Posted by Pickwick on (April 7, 2011, 22:18 GMT)

Leave SA alone. They hurt badly and why would anyone want to keep analyzing this beats me.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 22:13 GMT)

your analysis doesn't make any sense...the fact of the matter is(and i know the south african fans will beg to differ)South Africa have never won a knockout game in a world cup. now whether it is due to some headless chicken running by allan donnald, a miscalculation by players who clearly weren't the most gifted at arithmetic equations, or simply succumbing to the pressure, the fact remains they lost games that they so easily should have won. Their performance against new zealand in the quarter finals has simple reinforced the chokers tag entrusted upon them by years of repetitive shortcomings.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 21:52 GMT)

I agree with your assessment of a SA being a team with more technique than flair ... the only player I can think who has flair is Steyn. Andre Nel and Donald were other players with flair. Kallis like Dravid is a technique player. India and Pak teams have a lot of flair and tend to panic rather than choke.

On the other hand, as some readers have pointed out, SA's implosion was a combination of panicking and choking (in that order). As you pointed out, there was no terror in the pitch or the bowlers. After a few mindless wickets lost, SA began to be in the place they fear the most ... of losing a clutch game. Then they choked.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 20:45 GMT)

"When you refuse to take these calculated risks, you run the risk of digging a hole for the team, i.e. choking." According to Akash Misbah actually choked vs India in SF..

Posted by doesitmatter on (April 7, 2011, 20:42 GMT)

choke or panic was happy to see SA out ..for me the most boring team of all times..the very antithesis to instinct you talk about..may they choke always :)

Posted by Vilander on (April 7, 2011, 20:37 GMT)

a choke is a choke is a choke is a choke, :) SA=choke.

Posted by ok2307 on (April 7, 2011, 20:35 GMT)

@Supa_SAFFA: I like your comment mate! Based on facts and it is quite contary to the popular belief. I can recollect all the matches and you are spot on. Maybe the chokers tag is not justified after all (though my opinion was different earlier).

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 20:01 GMT)

Next article by Akash Chopra...why a coffee cup is not a teacup, and must not be used for drinking Tea.

Posted by inswing on (April 7, 2011, 19:23 GMT)

Panic is a type of choke.

Posted by Supa_SAFFA on (April 7, 2011, 19:17 GMT)

When is a choke not a choke? 1992 was a farce of a rain rule - no choke. '96 was the bad luck of running into legendary Brian Lara in form - no choke, could've happened to any team. '99 was a draw, not a choke - SA actually improved on their league stage loss against AUS, but had no tie-breaker to fairly settle the semi-final. 2003 was a moronic miscalculation - they had the game fully under control, but chased the wrong target - so no choke, just being numerically challenged. '07 was a simply a loss to the superior team - for the second time in the tournament, so no choke. I reckon it was in 2011 for the first time that they well and truly choked, believing the hype about their chances, folding under pressure from a scrapping side, chasing a low total against technically inferior opposition.

Posted by Champ2000 on (April 7, 2011, 18:49 GMT)

whatever.. SA choked and then nz smoked.

Posted by Vkarthik on (April 7, 2011, 18:14 GMT)

over analysis. Fact is they choked.

Posted by NP_NY on (April 7, 2011, 18:09 GMT)

Choke, Panic, Lose control, Get flustered....doesn't matter what you call it. They all mean lack of mental strength in pressure situations. SA is probably the most talented side on paper, but they need to work on their mental strength. India had similar problems, until Gary Kirsten came along.

Posted by TheGuruji on (April 7, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. A choke called by any other name, like "panic", is still the same and needs to be addressed. Who cares what anyone calls it? It is a problem no matter by what name it is called; and it needs to tacked head on. No one should take cover under semantics!

Posted by KingOwl on (April 7, 2011, 17:52 GMT)

Oh come on, Akash. Isn't it more fun to say they choked!?

Posted by deepman on (April 7, 2011, 17:31 GMT)

SA have quite a few urgent needs and they are glossed over by the phenomenally talented cricketers.One of them is a good leader,a captain who can inspire his men, who has the will to ignite their dreams and a calm guy ,a strategist.These qualities were never there in Smith,Pollock.Hansie Cronje , to some extent yes but not all of them.These are the qualities Ranantunga,Dhoni,Steve Waugh,Imran Khan had. SA had a very good bowling attack this time around:The best pacers,a very handy spin attack.But what was lacking was a batting that had depth.Take Amla and kallis out , it isn't really solid.A lot of flashy guys...What they need is batsmen who can take them to the finishing line.May be this is something that is seeping into the national team from the domestic setup.Their domestic league needs to get competitive maybe modelled on the pressure circumstances that a WC will 've. A mental conditioning coach like the Indians have(Upton) could be helpful.But the burning desire to win is a must

Posted by voyager on (April 7, 2011, 17:23 GMT)

So in summary;

Choke; Misbah's batting in SF, WC2011 Panic; Misbah's last over batting in Final of T20 WC 2008


Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 17:17 GMT)

Nicely said Aakash. There is no questioning South Africa's form in this tournament. what occured in that quarter final could have occured in any of the other quarter finals. Here we had 8 teams who on their day could beat anyone...that is exactly what happened.

no choke....definitely panic :)

Posted by arkantos4u on (April 7, 2011, 16:23 GMT)

If a tournament is of a round robin format, you can minimize the impact of the luck factor and am sure South Africa would win those tournaments quite convincingly...

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 16:17 GMT)

nonsense... just semantics... you're splitting hairs. why should i take your word that "abandoning rational thought" constitutes "panic" and not "choking"? big picture - they choked.

Posted by cric_fanatics on (April 7, 2011, 15:41 GMT)

u said its a choke when you play safe and leave too much to be done in the last over...and u also believe pakistan are a fine example on how not to choke...how do you explain pakistans situation in the semis then..?.....

Posted by bhanumanish on (April 7, 2011, 15:19 GMT)

ur article is,in some way,different from d regular cricket articles..whatever it may b panic/choke/confusion,but one thing common in all is dat SF r always unfortunate and unlucky...in sport,or in any field of life,u need some kind of luck..nyways if u leave aside CWC,they hve done preety well in all other tournaments..they went on to win d first Champions Trophy..i i still remember the way dey went on 2 win d series against Aussies 3-2,given d fact dat d series was levelled 2-2 d in d last match of d rubber dey went on to make 400+ while chasing to win the greastest game played ever..so,i dont think they r either choke or panic..it can happen 2 ny team...n rite now luck is nt favouring dem in CWC...

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 14:57 GMT)

Well done Akash!!! I think you have managed to split the hair right down the middle.

Posted by donda on (April 7, 2011, 14:56 GMT)

What ever , SA needs more planning and need to understand that you cannot win WC without trying to win it. Making a big strong team does not mean that you will win WC , its the attitude and wining habit that makes you champion which SA don't seems to show in knockout stages. Chocked is just a fun name for SA but real problem is with in their brain that oh they will lose it. Luck also play a big role. Like Amala's wicket was strange.

Posted by pankajkumarsingh on (April 7, 2011, 14:33 GMT)

Mr. Chopra - you need some tme off dude !! I am yet to understand the point of the article...

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 14:28 GMT)

If anybody ever watched SA play, you know they are traditionally over analyzing team. Obviously they are bound to panic. They always come into every match with Plan A, B and C. Sadly for them, this over planning is their undoing. Every one of their major tournament failures are due to different reasons. This world cup failure is because of incapable tail. It was exposed quite a few times recently. Remember Munaf taking two when just two runs were needed, remember England getting rid of tail. No offence to them but we are not talking about a malcolm marshall bouncer or a shane warne ripper. SA was so protective of its tail because they had to and that undid them. What SA need is a good bunch of players who are almost blind for the scorecard.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 13:50 GMT)

Aakash - I think it is a matter of semantics. The only solution for either, is to strengthen the mind. SA, ever since their re-admission, have always been filled with self doubt. I am not sure if that is a function of the numerous years of cricket isolation or something else. Almost all their players are over cautious - even those that have been their best since re-admission (example: Kallis, Donald). The only way to change for SA is to be bold and brave. They need to instill players who can go out and give it a whack - Gibbs and Klusner being good examples and need to be brave. I believe Tahir Imran is a good beginning for them. They also need a captain who is courageous - Smith was good, but definitely not brave. I would not be surprised if SA come back strong next WC and win it, provided they get a bold captain and one or two brave batters.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 13:48 GMT)

England has to be biggest chokers of all time. Playing since 200 years with no major titles.

Another is Pakistan. They have the worst records in chasing. Ooops according to you it should be Panicking not choking. Someone already said, doesnt matter you end up of on loosing side.

Lets be fair, players with no technique can only flair because its easy way out. Any technical batsman can flair but not the other way around.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 13:22 GMT)

Choking doesnt matter for teams like Australia and nowadays India because there is better instinct than that choke or panic it's called unnhh...SMELL THE BLOOD.

Posted by Syed_ishaq on (April 7, 2011, 12:51 GMT)

It was mixed up choke and panic. At one stage SA were on top and the crucial wicket were of Kallis and it was a tremendous short but, it looks it was againsts the wind hence it stop and could not cross the boundary and the tallest man in New Zealand team Jacob Oram took an excellent catch to dismiss Kallis and the blunder was the wicket of JP Duminy unnecessarily and it was not a cricketing short and the ball pitched wide of off-stump turning and he tried to pull towards mid-wicket miss timed and bowled and in same over AB De Villiers got himself run-out and match finished in a hurry. Since the arrival of SA team in international erena they could not capitalize the pressure and in a crucial juncture they played un-professional cricket in this world cup 2011 they lost to England in a low scoring match and lost to New Zealand in knock-out stage and at the beginning we thought India and South Africa will play final as hot favorite were India and they deserved this victory.

Posted by Woody111 on (April 7, 2011, 12:41 GMT)

That's very well written Akash; awesome to read. I apologise for previous slights toward you!

Posted by RashadBanna on (April 7, 2011, 12:32 GMT)

Excellent article, Aakash. When will South Africa ever win a World Cup?

Posted by kriskingle on (April 7, 2011, 12:31 GMT)

At last, a well reasoned article and explanation for the SA phenomenon!!!! Numerous writers have expounded, but their writings only seemed to be beating around the bush, and most of them ended up talking about the consequences and ramifications, without ever pinpointing the actual cause. A classic case in point is Pat Symcox's demand that the whole system must be changed, a staple generic response if ever there was one, and one which we Indians are very familiar with. I generally do not appreciate Aakash's articles, but this is one of his best pieces and is quite spot-on. You must really go on to coaching very soon, Aakash.The talent lost to Indian cricket must not be wasted, it might even come in handy sometime down theline in Indian coaching circles as well.

Posted by HaVoKry on (April 7, 2011, 12:22 GMT)

Nah, they definitely choked.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (April 7, 2011, 11:38 GMT)

When Razzaq got his 100 against SA a few months ago I have to say that was a choke. SA looked to bowl 50 overs and not bowl Pakistan out in that game, playing it safe and playing into his hands. Also I think the Black Caps deserve credit for their win. No one gives them credit for any of it. Good analysis Aakash looking forward to more from you.

Posted by Duckworth_Lewis on (April 7, 2011, 11:31 GMT)

Grasping at straws. In spite of all the semantic arguments here I still think panic and choke is pretty much the same thing. Especially when you're the red hot favourites going into a game. Which will not enlighten S.A. for their next cho...sorry - panic - exit from 2015 world Cup. So they got robbed in the '92 W.C., choked in '96, panicked in '99, choked '03, panicked '07, panicked '11

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 11:26 GMT)

yeah.... only thing is that during the collapse south africa got 7 runs off a 5 over period. so was that panic or a choke?

Posted by ultrasnow on (April 7, 2011, 11:01 GMT)

The only saffers who did not choke - Gary Kirsten, Paddy Upton - who have Team India and Dhoni to thank

Posted by SUNDOS on (April 7, 2011, 10:56 GMT)

Very well analysed.Its probably the combination of skills,the aura and knowing the right time to take that calculated risk that has set the greats apart.Good bowlers have been known to bowl rubbish when faced with a Sehwag,a Yuvraj,Dhoni,Tendulkar ans in the not so recent past Sir Viv in his pomp had the same effect on bowling sides.The great Lillee,Warne,McGrath and Kumble too had the same effect on batsmen.Where does this leave South African cricket?more talent in one side than all the other sides this world cup,I cant beleieve that there wasn't enough "nous" cricketing wise in this team.They will bounce back.There are enough sporting disciplines in which the Proteas excel.and enough sporting heroes to tap into to inspire a new mindset.Just look at Dhoni &Co,the backroom staff of St Gary and his wise band did work miracles.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 10:40 GMT)

Nice perspective! More like a scientific observation. no wonder some of the responders are clueless :)

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 10:13 GMT)

will people stop saying Boucher should have been there.his been choking right there with them since 96 good heavens!

Posted by Adaa on (April 7, 2011, 10:06 GMT)

Very Good one Sir.By your article i can safetly say...Misbah Ul Haq choked in the Semi Final,While Yonus khan and Afridi put on the panic button!

Posted by sweetspot on (April 7, 2011, 10:00 GMT)

@the unnamed F poster - India losing middle order wickets during Eng and SA matches was just plain, rampant overambition!

Posted by sweetspot on (April 7, 2011, 9:58 GMT)

Very good! Now SA have TWO problems? Hilarious!

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 9:53 GMT)

Does it really require such detailed analysis and waste of space when the end result in both cases is same? Even in 1999 semi, donald panicked, and u can excuse kallis for playing slowly bcos they had lost a lot of wickets and he had to drop anchor.

Posted by Sammorama on (April 7, 2011, 9:52 GMT)

Not a choke - they got beaten by the better side on the day - New Zealand. Did the media say New Zealand choked when they collapsed chasing the Sri Lankan total in the pool game after being well set? No... they got out-done by Mendis and Murali. Same here - South Africa just couldn't handle Big Jake and McCullum Snr on the night.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 9:37 GMT)

Very intriguing article... I like the phrase "When thinking goes deep, decisions go weak".. very relevant in everyday life also

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 9:36 GMT)

nice article and it does ease the pain.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 9:31 GMT)

A very good analytical article, thought-provoking. I almost didn't read it because it was written by Akash Chopra.

Now I feel good that I did. I never bothered there could be hairline between a choke and a panic. Apparently there is one.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 9:28 GMT)

Not a good article , the author contradicts himself all the time. According to author choking is playing too careful and safe and unable to win the game. Then How can you say that Pakistan is less likely to choke. By your definition of choke in semifinal of pak vs ind,pak played too slow in between overs and were unable to win at the last so that is choking right but still pakistan is less likely to choke by your explanation. I guess author is himself confused about what he is trying to explain.

Posted by Romanticstud on (April 7, 2011, 9:22 GMT)

I have been doing some analysis of World Cup Cricket where South Africa is involved. They have played in 6 World Cups ... In the 42 preliminary games, they have scored 9125 runs at an average of 37.7. In 5 of the 6 World Cups they have reached the knockout phase of the tournament ... In 2 Quarter Finals they have lost both. The Quarter Finals were both played on the Sub-Continent and yielded 417 runs at an average of 20.85. ... There have also been 3 Semi-Finals ... Thank you to the organisers ... which have been in Australia, England and in the Caribbean Islands ... South Africa has scored 594 runs at an average of 22.85 ... Now you say we paniced against New Zealand ... If you remove the rain affected match out of the equation ... the semi-finals yielded only 362 runs at an average of 18.1... South Africa are definitely chokers or did we panic against Australia in the 1999 World Cu?

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 9:16 GMT)

Yeah....U use difficult terminology,big words& give pointless examples to prove it wasn't a choke...So,Panic is the word.What differene does it make.Is panic an ATTRIBUTE that more teams should develop..? You talk just like my English teacher who thinks being afraid,being scared& frightened are all different things.So what even if it is ..? U wont care what it is when you are scared or frightened or whatever...Both of u wasted sm precious moments of my life... How is it supposed to help SOUTH AFRICANS in the future...?

Posted by Vegabonds on (April 7, 2011, 9:03 GMT)

Operation Successful, Patient Died!!!

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 8:59 GMT)

Difference b/w Choke & Panic

Posted by superstar2011 on (April 7, 2011, 8:58 GMT)

That was pretty enlightening!!. Choke or panic, how does it matter!! End of the day they end up losing. Find something better to write Aakash.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 8:53 GMT)

A very cerebral article. Good job, Akash! I liked you as a gritty customer, especially when partnering Viru, you had proved to be a tough nut to crack for Australian pacers. Now I like your analytical skills as a cricket writer, anchor or commentator. Keep it up. Avadh Lal

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 8:53 GMT)

Were you Panicked or chocked while writing this article :)

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 8:48 GMT)

they were chasing 220 odd they didnt need any more batsman they had a strong batting line up and they had Devilliers and kallis well set then Kallis and devilliers CHOKED and duminy and the rest (ecept du plessis) PANICKED. so they both choked and panicked all in 1 game. also ravi1075, what are u talking about du plessis negatively for he made 36 in that game and it could have been a match winning knock had devilliers not been run out and if the lower order didnt choke

Posted by Harry0009 on (April 7, 2011, 8:46 GMT)

I dunno about panic or choke but at the end of the day what matters is the result, and hence India neither panicked or choked but soaked the pressure!.

Also going by this did India choke or panic against SA...I did not see either of this and still they lost the game!

Posted by asevitz on (April 7, 2011, 8:36 GMT)


Posted by unregisteredalien on (April 7, 2011, 8:10 GMT)

I'm surprised at all the hostility directed towards this analysis. Why not pay the author some respect and give the article a little thought? You might find the results more satisfying than feeble sarcasm and simplistic stereotyping.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

Nice article. Aakash is probably a fan of Malcom Gladwell. I enjoyed the fact that he saw the difference between the two. I understand panic as not knowing what to do when the situation arises but choking is not being able to do something you are extremely good at doing it due to the pressure of the situation. Chokers think too much. Choking is much more relevant in sports where sense of timing is involved (like batting). Bowling and fielding can be more of planned activities. In batting if a batsman thinks too much he cannot play his shots normally his timing (controlled by his subconscious) is disturbed - thats choking. Usually pressure if you donot know what is right - you panic. If under pressure you loose confidence in you ability or tend to loose timing thats choking. In SA team..some batsmen choked but most players panicked.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 7:32 GMT)

Interesting article. Iain O'Brien (former NZ bowler) shares this opinion with you.

Posted by Damodar99 on (April 7, 2011, 7:24 GMT)

Why only call South Africa as chokers....Even New Zealand had not managed to win a knock out match in the world cups until they defeated South Africa this time. New Zealand lost in the semi finals of the 1975 WC, semi finals of the 1979 WC, Semi finals of the 1992 WC, Quarter finals of 1996 WC, Semi finals of 1999 WC and semi finals of the 2007 WC. It was only in 2011 that two chokers met in the Quarter finals of the 2011 WC which New Zealand won but eventually choked in the semi finals.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 7:18 GMT)

@ Shreemanth Karthik, that was a sarcastic comment from an illiterate guy!

Akash Chopra has only paraphrased what Malcolm Gladwell has written in "The Art of Failure' in The New Yorker magazine. Obviously he has heard of Gladwell, when you haven't.

Don't try to make fun of well-read cricketers, for God's sake !

Posted by sonofchennai on (April 7, 2011, 7:17 GMT)

i think Akash has given a useless article...Dear Akash, what are you trying to convey to the readers...its no where near ur good articles like the one on 'batting in the zone', or playing the fast swing bowlers...step up

Posted by riteshjsr on (April 7, 2011, 7:17 GMT)

Choke...Panic...call it whatever, it is one and the same thing. Let's not get into semantics!

Posted by rahjay on (April 7, 2011, 7:16 GMT)

Looks like Aakash was set to choke as the deadline for his column approached, then he just panicked and wrote this piece.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 7:14 GMT)

so mr.chopra - do u suggest panicking is an exaggerated version of choking or something like that ?

Posted by crikwiz on (April 7, 2011, 7:05 GMT)

So Aakash Chopra's defensive batting was to avoid choking or panicking??

Posted by ahsha on (April 7, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

A pointless article-it completely undervalues the brilliance of New Zealands performance.South Africa have no god-given right to win any game.New Zealand are a team with ability and a proven track record in World Cups.The Kiwis can play and can be a force to reckoned with.Give New Zealand some credit!!!!!!!!

Posted by KaunD on (April 7, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

@Phani Raghavendra : that is the third type. They call it over-confidence that you can easily win and then you lose.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 6:43 GMT)

Did Pakistan both choke and panic in the semi-final against India?

Posted by VipulPatki on (April 7, 2011, 6:30 GMT)

Going by the dictionary meanings of the two words, it seems there is very little to choose between choke and panic. Here's what a dictionary says for choke: "to fail at sth, for example because you are nervous". And here's what the same dictionary says about panic: "a situation in which people are made to feel very anxious". As I said, finding differences could be easier than splitting hairs.

Posted by Farenheit on (April 7, 2011, 6:01 GMT)

I agree with Bipulkumar, the SA team was too dependent on Amla and Devilliers and a middle order collapse, which is almost inevitableon the sub-continent, was bound to destroy south africa's chances since they had such a weak middle-lower order

Posted by Windia1234 on (April 7, 2011, 5:54 GMT)

Once u lose a game which u ought to have won sleepwalking, it matters little whether it is a choke or a panic. But nevertheless, a good perspective of what can go wrong in the middle in any sport.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 5:52 GMT)

So you mean to say Misbaaaaah choked in semis ??

Posted by Vintej on (April 7, 2011, 5:51 GMT)

Aakash, when somebody panics, they choke! Holy smoke! whatever!!!!!!!! SA don't win Knock-out matches in WC; Period! Too much analysis leads to a paralysis. SA should know, by now.

Posted by TKris on (April 7, 2011, 5:41 GMT)

Stupid run outs and bad shots are there in every game. These 'unforced errors' don't make up 'panic' or 'choking'. Just think about those so many unforced errors made by India in the India-Pak match, and yet India came out winners. This is because the margin of error allowed by Pakistan was enormous that day. Note that each of the top 8 teams is capable of beating any of the rest seven on any given day. Especially when they smell opponent's blood, they go all out, leaving no margin of error for the opponent. Against SA, NZ started to bowl clean and field fantastically when they smelled blood. When SA made those unforced errors (which are usual for any team), NZ was there to capitalize on every error (unlike Pak against India). So, it is more of the NZ going for SA's throats than SA losing their cool. Why does SA always find themselves in this position? Every team knows this about SA, and so when presented with such a chance against SA every team simply give their best shot.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

Oh thank god.. I would have run away with the idea that this was a choke!! Everyone please refer to this article in the future.. Don't you confuse the two types, choke and whatever the hell the other is...

Posted by hsudhindra on (April 7, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

Classic article, Aakash. Panic looks horrible for the viewer coz it makes you look worse than you probably are while choking may go unnoticed coz it makes the opponent look better than he probably is!

Posted by bipulkumar on (April 7, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

A useless article after a long time. Choke/Panic whatever, it's all about losing the plot when you are expect to do something comfortably. But I don't think South Africans choked or panicked this time. It was their absurd team selection that proved too costly. They had only 2 members in the team who can't bowl. One of them a wicketkeeper (AB Devilliers) and the other an opening batsman (Amla). They still went with 5 specialist bowlers. The collapse was bound to happen someday and it happened when media made the most of it with their favorite tag "choke".

Posted by NGayanP on (April 7, 2011, 5:03 GMT)

So in the case of Chamara Silva's Knock against Pakistan in the early stages of WC 2011 it was a choke

Posted by vertical on (April 7, 2011, 4:59 GMT)

i dont know about other instances but saffers didnt choke this time , they just didnt have the batting depth botha and peterson coming at 7 and 8 du plesis with no experience. When they already had kallis as allrounder and duminy and de plesis doing so well with ball they should have gone in with and extra batsman or keeper in mark boucher. Wrong combination undid them this time.

Posted by unregisteredalien on (April 7, 2011, 4:56 GMT)

Great piece, interesting and insightful.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 4:53 GMT)

Great to see a writer wasting so much space trying to create an absurd argument!

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 4:40 GMT)

What you wrote doesn't convey any meaning......

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 4:30 GMT)

What about India loosing middle order wickets during ENG & SA matches. Is it Choking or Panicking?

Posted by   on (April 7, 2011, 3:34 GMT)

A brilliant perspective!!!

Posted by dnarmstrong on (April 7, 2011, 3:30 GMT)

Sorry Aakash but panicking is the same as choking. A bit of a waste of time this, make sure you get your definitions right.

South Africa = Perennial Choke Artists. It's a magnificent thing to watch, let's not take it away from them.

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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