Proteas coach Ottis Gibson admitted in the aftermath of the demoralising defeat to Bangladesh that he expected much more from his bowlers, especially Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada at the death.
Having pulled Bangladesh back superbly between the 35th and 46th overs, all the good work was undone in the last four overs as 54 runs were plundered, taking Bangladesh to 330 for six, their highest ever ODI score.
South Africa fell 21 runs short.
Morris, who had conceded a respectable 44 runs in his first eight overs, was then hammered for 29 in his last two, while Rabada went for 14 in the 50th over.
What was perplexing was how the Proteas bowlers persisted with short-pitched deliveries, very few yorkers being bowled despite the team assuring in the build-up to the tournament that the blockhole ball would be a major part of their plans.
“Fat du Plessis has taken responsibility for getting it wrong at the toss, but the way we bowled, conceding 54 in the last four overs having restricted them and got back to feeling that they would only get 290 at one stage, that’s where the game was won and lost.
“When you’re under pressure as a bowler, you need to ask yourself what your super-strength is and Chris and KG have the best yorkers in the country. The way the field was set, they had three options – to bowl short, a slower-ball or a yorker – and I expected more yorkers. I haven’t yet worked out why we didn’t bowl more of them.
“As a bowler, you have to say ‘I’m going back to my best strength, the ball I back myself to bowl’. Someone like Andile Phehlukwayo does that a lot, he bowled very well and mixed it up nicely,” Gibson said.
While Morris’s failure to deliver consistent yorkers confounded the coach, Gibson also expressed concern over the lack of impact Rabada has had – so far in the tournament he has bowled 20 overs, conceded 123 runs and taken two wickets.
“We’ve been planning for two years to build a potent bowling attack and that’s obviously given a lot more weight if KG is taking wickets. He’s bowling okay but he hasn’t really struck. I think he’s 100% fit because he had a break during the IPL, but he’s not striking like we know he can,” Gibson said.
While the former West Indies head coach admitted the loss to Bangladesh, for only the fourth time in 21 ODIs against them, had been a shock, he said the team could not dwell on it and had to focus their energies on an improved showing against mighty India in Southampton on Wednesday.
“It was very tough to take because after the first game against England there were a lot of conversations and we expected a better performance, although you can never guarantee a win. But Bangladesh were the better side, they deserved their win, they were excellent. There’s no place to hide at a World Cup and there’s no point sulking around.
“But it’s probably better to lose now, losing early is not always bad if you learn from it and improve. It hurts at the moment but we’ve just lost two games and there’s still the opportunity to do better. I keep telling the team how good they are. They’re actually not a bad team, they’re just not playing great cricket now,” Gibson said.