Nottingham, England:South African captain Graeme Smith will not let his team be branded chokers anymore despite failing to make the final of the World Twenty20 here.
South Africa, overwhelming favourites after five straight wins in the tournament, were knocked out by Pakistan in a seven-run defeat in Thursday's semi-final.
Shahid Afridi smashed 51 from 34 balls and then grabbed 2-16 with his leg-spin as Pakistan successfully defended 149-4 to restrict the Proteas to 142-5 before a sell-out crowd at Trent Bridge.
"Every time we lose an important game, that word, chokers, is thrown around," a disappointed Smith said after the match.
"But we have played great cricket and I am proud of the way the guys have performed.
"During the last couple of years we have been on an upward curve and the team will improve and get stronger and stronger."
South Africa have faltered in most major multi-nation tournaments like the World Cup and Champions Trophy despite being one of the leading sides in the modern game.
Smith said the semi-final loss hurt, but conceded Pakistan were the better team and deserved to win.
"It is obviously disappointing and sad to be leaving the tournament now," he said.
"We have played some great cricket in this tournament and played some great cricket in the semi-final.
"But Pakistan brought their 'A' game to this match and every cog worked well for them.
"Afridi was the difference. His four overs brought Pakistan back into the game. We lost our way and never got back into it.
"I think we deserved to be in the final with the way we performed during this tournament, but that is not how it works. Pakistan played better than us."
Pakistan, runners-up to India in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa two years ago, will play either Sri Lanka or the West Indies in Sunday's final at Lord's.
Afridi plundered eight boundaries, including four in succession off Johan Botha, after Pakistan elected to bat on a wicket that slowed down as the evening progressed.
Veteran Jacques Kallis made a brave attempt to take the South Africans home, striking seven fours and a six in 64 from 54 balls, but the other batsmen faltered against the spot-on attack.
Smith failed to make use of an early chance when he was dropped by Umar Gul as he skied a return catch to seamer Mohammad Aamir after making 10.
Afridi, coming on to bowl in the seventh over, struck twice in four deliveries when he bowled Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers to make South Africa 50-3 in 8.3 overs.
Afridi and fellow-spinner Saeed Ajmal made runs hard to come by, and when the dangerous Gul came on to bowl in the 14th over, South Africa needed a further 77 from 42 balls.
Kallis and JP Duminy raised South Africa's hopes by adding 61 from 53 balls for the fourth wicket, but Ajmal broke the threatening stand by having Kallis caught in the deep in the 18th over.
Duminy remained unbeaten on 44 from 39 balls but the task of needing 23 runs in the last over bowled by Aamir proved too much for him and Mark Boucher.
It did not matter at the end that Pakistan, who were 120-3 after 15 overs, failed to build on the early advantage and managed just 29 runs in the final five overs.