• AB rues missed chances

    AB de Villiers says he has no regrets about any of the decisions South Africa made during the World Cup.

    South Africa are coming home after New Zealand defeated them by four wickets in the first World Cup semi-final in Auckland on Tuesday. The match was reduced to 43 overs after a rain delay.

    The game went down to the wire, with the Blacks Caps reaching their target of 298 in the final over which was bowled by Dale Steyn.

    The South African bowlers struggled for the most part to contain the New Zealand batsmen in the small Eden Park field, with Brendon McCullum’s spectacular innings of 59 off 32 balls gave New Zealand the best possible start and took the pressure off the rest of the batting order.

    There was surprise when Vernon Philander replaced the in-form Kyle Abbott before the game, but De Villiers said at his post-match interview that he had no regrets in the entire tournament, including Philander playing ahead of Abbott.

    Dale Steyn also appeared to suffer from a hamstring injury throughout the game.

    ‘I have absolutely no regrets,’ an emotionally gutted De Villiers said.

    ‘It was an amazing game of cricket. It was probably the most electric crowd I’ve ever heard in my life. The better team came out top today. We gave it our best and left everything on the field.

    ‘I couldn’t ask anything more from my boys. We’re not going back home with any regrets. I guess we had our chances and didn’t take it. It’s hurting quite a bit. It will take us a while to get over this.’

    The Proteas started poorly with the ball, with McCullum hitting Dale Steyn out of the attack while Philander also struggled. Imran Tahir and Morne Morkel were the pick of the bowlers and restored some order.

    Two missed run-out chances by De Villiers and then Quinton de Kock late in the New Zealand innings cost South Africa dearly, while Farhaan Behardien also dropped a catch before JP Duminy collided with him in the outfield.

    De Villiers admitted it was the most emotional he had ever been on a field, but refused to blame the rain delay for South Africa’s demise.

    ‘The rain was too long ago,’ he said. ‘We adjusted after that. Our total should have been enough. I don’t think the rain played a big role. We expect things like that.

    ‘There was a bigger picture for us. We played for the people back home. We played to make a difference. Hopefully the passion we showed here did make a difference. I hope they can still be proud of us even though we lost tonight.’

    De Villiers said he doesn’t know what happens now.

    ‘I have absolutely no idea what to do after this. As captain I’ll be there for the players as much as I can.’

    Coach Russell Domingo said they weren’t looking at one or two individuals after the defeat.

    ‘I don’t think Vernon bowled badly today. He went for a few runs early on, but then came back and looked better. I was impressed by the way we went about our business today, said Domingo. ‘Especially early in our own innings when we were under a lot of pressure. The calmness and application the batsmen showed just shows you how far we’ve come. The boys are broken. It’s extremely tough for them.’