Rarely, if ever, can South Africa have been as good and as bad in the same match as they were on Friday evening in Mumbai.
Apart from an over delivered by leg spinner Adil Rashid which cost just three runs, the Proteas batsmen maintained the tempo against a flagging attack throughout the innings, even in the middle overs which have been problematic in recent times.
Quinton de Kock was devastating and Hashim Amla prodced his highest strike rate yet. Faf du Plessis should be disappointed that with taking 17 balls for as many runs (yes, there is room for constructive criticism even with a team total of 229) but J-P Duminy and David Miller did everything and more asked of them in the final overs.
“We backed ourselves at the halfway stage, obviously,” Duminy said in an honest appraisal of what went wrong. “It was an outstanding effort by England and credit must be given where it is due.”
“We recovered a little with the ball in the middle of the innings but once the asking rate was below 10 runs an over on a pitch like this one and a small outfield, it is very hard to defend.
“We conceded too many extras apart from anything else, too many wides. There was nothing wrong with our planning, it was the execution which was the problem. The dew wasn’t that bad – there are no excuses and we take full responsibility for our errors.
“We are under the pump now, for sure. We have to win every game to make the semi finals. There were positives, especially with the bat. It’s good to be scoring that many runs but we need to find ways of defending them,” Duminy replied sardonically.
South Africa are unlikely to make a rash of changes for Sunday’s game against Afghanistan but, amongst several questions to be answered is the bowling of Chris Morris.
The cool and clinical way he bats under pressure discounts any questions about his temperament which means, perhaps, there is a technical rather than mental weakness which is exposed when he is tense.
Shaun Pollock is amongst several experts to have suggested that his leading leg should be pointing towards the batsman in delivery rather than fine leg and that his balance is compromised and unreliable as a result. Having just been bought for a million IPL dollars, this may not be the best time to start correcting the error. But when will?
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