Proteas need to regroup after 130-run loss to India
SOUTH Africa found out the hard way yesterday that the World Cup will not be easily won by any team who have to find a way past India. They also found out that they are capable of playing very poor cricket.
Yesterday’s defeat, by 130 runs, added to the pressure on South Africa to beat the West Indies in Sydney on Friday.
Another loss and a strong team, who started the tournament among the favoured few, will be hanging on and hoping very hard.
Best, then, that South Africa learn the folly of the approach they took in the lead-up to this match. They hid in their laager from the admittedly challenging Indian media all week, and when AB de Villiers was finally forced to blink into the light on Saturday, he fell victim to petty tetchiness.
Moreover, South Africa have known for a long time that this would be their biggest match of the group stage.
They played like they had known that truth for too long, like they were tired of knowing it, like they would have preferred it not to be true.
They had to give of their best yesterday. Instead, they delivered a half-baked performance against opponents who handed them the hiding they deserved – the first time in 36 one-day internationals that they have been beaten by more than 100 runs.
The World Cup is no place for an amateurish approach. If South Africa are serious about trying to win it, they will have to grow up – and fast.
First, the best attack and fielding outfit in the tournament allowed the Indians to reach a total of 307-7.
Then the best batting lineup in the tournament ran out of gas at 177 after 40.2 overs.
The problems started at the toss – not because MS Dhoni won it, but because Wayne Parnell replaced Farhaan Behardien. The latter is no matchwinner, but the mercurial Parnell has the potential to lose matches as much as win them.
Parnell was unlucky, having had a catch dropped and being done for a no-ball that was a legal delivery. But only three times has a South African bowler conceded more runs than the 85 he went for.
Had Hashim Amla, diving at backward point, hung onto to what would have been a wicket for Parnell, Shikhar Dhawan would have been dismissed for 53. Instead, he scored a careerbest 137 – the highest innings of the tournament so far.
The century stands Dhawan shared with Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane helped India to the seventh first innings of more than 300 runs in the 13 World Cup matches played.
For the second time in as many games, Dale Steyn was driven over extra cover for six.
Given those problems, Vernon Philander’s exit with a hamstring problem after bowling four overs was the last thing South Africa needed.
But worse was to come when batsmen of the calibre of our finest came unstuck against an attack that might look decent at franchise level. A string of soft or self-engineered dismissals and two run-outs is not nearly good enough.
Faf du Plessis made a gritty half-century before slapping a catch straight to mid-off, and he and De Villiers shared a stand of 68. And that was the best of it. South Africa’s Cup is a long way from over, but if they keep playing like this, they would be better off going home now.