Proteas captain AB de Villiers took responsibility for the shock 29-run World Cup loss to Pakistan on Saturday, blasting his team for being stuck in “second or third gear”.
Pakistan pulled off a hard-fought triumph under the Duckworth-Lewis method in a match shortened to 47-overs-a-side at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Pakistan’s 222 in 46.4 overs, interrupted by two delays for rain, was boosted by 56 from skipper Misbah-ul-Haq while recalled opener Sarfraz Ahmed chipped in with a brisk 49.
De Villiers fought a lone hand in South Africa’s 202 in 33.3 overs with a brilliant 58-ball 77 including five sixes and seven boundaries.
But chasing a revised target of 232, the Proteas were undone by Pakistan’s trio of left-arm seamers Rahat Ali (3-50), Wahab Riaz (3-45) and Mohammad Irfan (3-45) who thwarted de Villiers’s hopes of wrapping up a quarter-final place before the last round of pool games next week.
Both Pakistan and South Africa now have six points from five matches, behind Pool B leaders India who have a perfect eight from four.
‘I’m not blaming anyone. I’m not saying anyone didn’t have the energy. I just didn’t feel any electric vibe at the warm-up,’ said de Villiers.
‘That is normally a bit of an alarm bell going off for me. It is my responsibility to try to get the guys going, which I couldn’t, so maybe I should take responsibility for that.
‘I just could feel that nothing was really happening at a hundred percent. It was almost like a car that’s stuck in second or third gear, and that’s not going to win you cricket games, especially not under pressure and in big tournaments like this.
‘So we need to have a chat about what maybe went wrong tonight and try to get to fifth gear again against the UAE,’ said De Villiers, of their concluding pool game in Wellington on Thursday.
‘I felt that Pakistan wanted it more than us. There’s nothing wrong with the batting. It’s just a matter of urgency and being prepared to fight it out.’
The South African captain was full of admiration for Pakistan’s bowling.
‘They bowled pretty well tonight. They were geared up and really wanted to win the game. You could see that from a mile away.’
South Africa were well set at 67 for before Pakistan took four wickets off 39 balls for the addition of just ten runs to leave them struggling at 102-6.
De Villiers put on 32 with Dale Steyn (16) for the seventh wicket and another 34 with Kyle Abbott (12) for the next.
But Sohail Khan had de Villiers caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed for a world record equalling sixth catch – the most by a keeper in a one-day international.
‘Every time we lost a wicket it was a turning point. It was all about us not losing wickets and them picking up wickets,’ said the captain.
De Villiers said he retained full faith in his team who are still on course for a last-eight place.
‘I’ve got full faith in the ability of the players around me. That’s why they’re all here. I know I can’t win this World Cup alone. I need my team-mates.’ – AFP