The bowling attack has been the basis around which the Proteas have planned their entire World Cup campaign and captain Faf du Plessis admitted he was bitterly disappointed in how the bowlers performed as they crashed to a 21-run defeat at the hands of Bangladesh at The Oval on Sunday.
Du Plessis backed his bowlers to such an extent that when he won the toss he decided to bowl first, knowing the risks that entailed as it meant South Africa’s batsmen would have to chase on a fourth-innings pitch against Bangladesh’s excellent spinners.
Sadly they could not deliver a consistent length and Bangladesh were off to a flyer, the openers putting on 60 in the first eight overs and Shakib al-Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim then adding 142 at a run-a-ball for the third wicket.
The Proteas did claw their way back with excellent bowling between the 35th and 45th overs limiting Bangladesh to just 54 runs, but then undid all the good work by being thrashed for 59 runs in the last five overs.
“It’s extremely disappointing, I’m gutted. In all facets we’re just not firing, we’re off in most areas, but the bowlers were not at their best and did not execute right through the innings. We gave them a lot of width and the last five overs were crucial.
“Things really didn’t go according to plan with the ball, we didn’t use the first hour when I wanted to use four seamers, but Lungi Ngidi’s injury meant we had to bowl 15-20 overs of spin. Then we needed to bowl them out to stop them from getting a big score, because that’s when their bowlers can squeeze you and that’s exactly what happened,” Du Plessis said after South Africa’s second successive defeat at The Oval.
The Proteas now have to get themselves up from a massively disappointing start to the tournament to take on powerhouses India in Southampton on Wednesday, and Du Plessis said their plans will get a thorough re-evaluation before then.
“We now have to reshuffle all our cards and look at what can be effective against a strong team in India. Plan A of having all our fast bowlers together has gone, but we have to believe and see how we can lift our spirits. We have to turn it around and we’re not just going to fall over.
“To blame bad luck is not an option, we have to find a way to put in a performance. We don’t get to make excuses, that wasn’t good enough. If we don’t perform then it is time for harsh words and I’m no longer Mr Nice Guy,” Du Plessis said.