South Africa face a mountainous task to reach the World Cup semi-finals after losing their first three group stage matches.
The Oval was an unhappy hunting ground for the Proteas as they followed up defeat to tournament hosts and favourites England in last Thursday’s curtain-raiser with a surprise slip-up against Bangladesh.
With India prevailing at the Ageas Bowl to leave South Africa on the verge of an early exit, Press Association Sport looks at what has gone wrong for Faf Du Plessis’ men.
What a start to #CWC19 for India! A brilliant Rohit Sharma carries his bat to lead a six-wicket win!
— ICC (@ICC) June 5, 2019
South Africa’s reputation for the dreaded ‘c’ word has preceded them since before the turn of the century but they may not even get the opportunity to choke. They were certainly done no favours by the schedulers as they were pitted against the only two sides ranked higher than them in the one-day international rankings – England and India – inside their first three fixtures. Contrast that with New Zealand, ranked fourth whose first three encounters are all against sides lower than them. The obvious counter-argument is that in a round robin format, all sides are obliged to play each other but South Africa were always likely to be up against it.
South Africa were among the favourites in 2015 and though it is was anticipated they would not go all the way this time, they were still strong contenders to progress from the group stage – a prospect that seems remote now. However, Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe may have heightened any pressure in the camp when he said earlier this year that coach Ottis Gibson was “hired to win the World Cup but at the very least, the chairperson of the (CSA) Board said he must qualify for the final”.
Little has gone right for South Africa from the moment they announced their provisional World Cup squad. Anrich Nortje’s fractured thumb meant Chris Morris was drafted into the final 15-man group but their injury situation has scarcely improved. On the eve of the India clash, it was announced Dale Steyn’s tournament is over because of a new shoulder problem and Lungi Ngidi is struggling with a hamstring complaint. Hashim Amla, meanwhile, was sidelined against Bangladesh after experiencing concussion-like symptoms, leading to an unsettled line-up and the belief that next to nothing is going to plan.
4. Batting woes
When South Africa restricted to England to 311 for eight, the feeling was that the game was very much in the balance. And with Quinton De Kock going strong at one end to lift South Africa to 129 for two before the halfway point in their innings, there would have been uneasiness in the England camp. But De Kock’s dismissal was followed by a collapse and against Bangladesh and India, a number of South Africa’s batting line-up have failed to consolidate on their starts. On 12 occasions, one of their number has gone past 30 but De Kock’s 68 is their highest individual score, which is frankly not good enough.
5. No talisman
It is redundant to wonder if AB De Villiers would have made any difference to this side but his international retirement left a seismic hole. A batsman who is capable of the extraordinary, De Villiers would unquestionably still walk into any side in the world. Wicketkeeper-batsman De Kock and paceman Kagiso Rabada were the obvious standouts in this 15 but neither has really ignited and the likes of Amla and Steyn are winding down their careers. David Miller and JP Duminy have had x-factor moments in their careers but lack consistency, adding up to a squad that is certainly capable but perhaps lacks a forceful star personality.