Proteas exit ICC World Twenty20

3 October 2012

The Proteas’ slim chance of reaching the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 fell away when Pakistan beat Australia on Tuesday. That left South Africa with nothing but pride to play for against India. In a roller-coaster contest, AB de Villiers and company exited the competition with a one-run loss.

Batting first, India posted 152 for 6, led by Suresh Raina’s 45 off 35 deliveries. Morne Morkel captured 2 for 28 with the ball in his four overs, while Robin Peterson picked up 2 for 25.

South Africa’s reply started poorly, with Amla dismissed from the second ball of the innings. Faf du Plessis shone with 65, but five other batsmen made it to double figures, yet four of them failed to make it beyond 13.

Final over

Nonetheless, the contest came down to the final over, with South Africa requiring 13 for victory. When Albie Morkel smashed the first ball of the over for six, the Proteas, who had two wickets in hand, were left needing eight runs off five balls, and it looked as if they would sneak home.

The very next ball, however, Morkel dragged the delivery from Lakshmipathy Balaji onto his stumps. That brought his brother Morne to the crease.

The taller of the two Morkels was deceived by a slower ball first up and played a shot too early. The next ball, though, he blasted Balaji for six. Advantage South Africa, it seemed.

However, when Morkel went for it again off the second last delivery of the over, he was clean bowled, leaving India winners by one run, with South Africa all out for 151.

‘A poor tournament’

After the contest, captain AB de Villiers did not try to hide his dissatisfaction with his team’s performances. “Disappointed isn’t the word to describe it. We’ve had a poor tournament,” he said.

“We’ve let the country down and that’s what hurts most.

“We did all the preparation possible. We thought we were ready, but the guys didn’t click.”

If one offered De Villiers an excuse for his team’s sub-standard showing, he probably wouldn’t take it, but touring England before heading directly for Sri Lanka was far from ideal preparation for the ICC World Twenty20.

Neither South Africa nor England performed well in the tournament, but the Proteas had the added disadvantage of being away from home since early July. With different preparation, more focused on the 20 overs a side game, they would surely have done better.

Games they could have won

Their matches against India and Pakistan were games they could easily have won, but they did not. Those were contests that a fresher side might well have taken.

At the top level of play, it’s the little things that make the difference and with the team some way off its best form, that was the difference between winning and losing.

The biggest factor was the poor batting performances by the Proteas. Not only were match-winning individual innings not played, but the top scorers in each match received little support, resulting in poor totals which were difficult to defend.

Half-centuries

In five matches, only two South Africans made half-centuries and one of those, Richard Levi’s 50 not out, came against minnows Zimbabwe.

Faf du Plessis made the highest score for South Africa in the tournament of 65 against India, but the next highest score in the game was just 16.

To underline just how poor the Proteas’ batting was: only JP Duminy, with 106 runs in four innings, topped the 100-run mark. Hashim Amla managed 71 runs in five innings, Jacques Kallis made 24 in three, De Villiers 89 in four and Richard Levi 62 in four. Such performances won’t serve any team well.

The bowling was good, but not good enough to defend poor totals.

One has to ask, was it a choke on South Africa’s part? Not really. One has to be in with a strong shot at victory to choke and the Proteas were too far off their best to really challenge at the ICC World Twenty20. After the testing tour of England, the tournament proved to be a bridge too far.

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