When Indian batsmen Hardik Pandya crashed Andile Phehlukwayo behind point for four, South Africa’s 2019 Cricket World Cup record went to Played 3 Lost 3 – leaving them rock bottom of the group and their chances of progression to the final 4 hanging by the thinnest of threads.
India (celebrating a wicket above) won the game at a canter – by 6 wickets – on the back of a fine bowling display and superb century from Rohit Sharma in reply – who finished 122 not out. Although South Africa plugged away, there was no doubt that India were in control of the game throughout.
For the Proteas, the third loss in three leaves them in a desperate situation. You can argue, and point to, that facing England and India, the two tournament favourites, in their first three games, is a tough call for any team and losses to them are not, overly, a surprise. But sandwiched between those games was the small matter of Bangladesh – and the South Africans contrived to lose that game – allowing the Bangladesh batsmen to post 330/6 in their 50 overs, and then not being able to chase it down, finishing 21 runs behind on 309/8. This game – this loss – could be the one that, even at this early stage of the tournament, means South Africa will be watching the semi finals on the TV, rather than playing in them.
It will be deemed something of a disaster for this proud cricketing nation. Whilst pretty much every other nation have gone through transitional spells, South Africa are going through their own. Gone are the likes of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Hansie Cronje, Jacques Kallis, Lance Klusener and a host of other fearsome cricketers that propelled South Africa to the top of the world rankings and one of the best ODI sides around. But, even in those halcyon days, they have always failed at the World Cup. The Proteas have never made the World Cup final, let alone won one, and it seems their current crop of promising players look highly likely to chalk another failure up to that ever growing list.
Injuries haven’t helped – Dale Steyn was included in the World Cup squad but hasn’t bowled a ball in anger, and looks likely to miss the rest of the tournament. Lungi Ngidi remains sidelined and his return is uncertain. Couple this with some of the more familiar South African players looking badly out of touch – JP Duminy and Hashim Amla (pictured above) most notably – the pressure then mounts on the younger, less experienced players, who fight, but just don’t have the cricketing nous to overcome some of the worlds best ODI batsmen and bowlers. There are reports also that A B de Villiers offered to join up and play for South Africa despite retiring in 2018, but his offer was declined. That, in retrospect, seems a poor decision.
The Proteas now have six group games left. They are, mathematically, not out of the semi final equation – and do not have to face England or India as others do. But they DO still have to face the likes of Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and, next up, and crucially, the West Indies. Logic states that they will need to win out their remaining games to have any chance – and even that may not be enough. But even, as seems likely, they do miss out on the knockout phase, this proud nation will want some victories and progression to point to as, at least, a platform going forward to build on, out of what could turn out yet to be a disastrous 2019 Cricket World Cup campaign.
SOUTH AFRICA 2019 CRICKET WORLD CUP FIXTURES
- 30/5/19 vs England – LOST by 104 runs
- 02/6/19 vs Bangladesh – LOST by 21 runs
- 05/6/19 vs India – LOST by 6 wickets
- 10/6/19 vs West Indies
- 15/6/19 vs Afghanistan
- 19/6/19 vs New Zealand
- 23/6/19 vs Pakistan
- 28/6/19 vs Sri Lanka
- 06/7/19 vs Australia