The most frustrating thing about South Africa’s complete performance against Sri Lanka was that it came after they were already out of the T20 World Cup.
That is how captain Faf du Plessis summed up the eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Delhi on Monday.
The Proteas arrive back in South Africa on Tuesday for a short break before most of them return to India to play in the IPL.
‘It’s very frustrating to have this complete performance [when we’re already out of the tournament],’ Du Plessis said at his post-macht press conference.
‘We showed signs of some really good cricket throughout this tournament. Obviously the Mumbai game [against England] was as good a batting performance as you’ll see, but obviously not a great bowling performance. The same against the West Indies. We didn’t bat as well as we wanted to, although on that wicket 10 more runs would have been par. And then we brought it back with the ball. It’s in both games we did one half of the game really well.
‘Bowling first as a team is our strength,’ Du Plessis said. ‘Against Sri Lanka, the bowlers bowled really well and we chased down a small total which is never easy on these wickets. It’s bittersweet. We are going back to South Africa out of the World Cup and that is not where we wanted to be. We only have ourselves to blame.’
‘We came here a great squad wanting to win the World Cup, and we didn’t play our best cricket. It’s very sad. The fans feel the same way we do and they have a right to feel like that. The thing is, T20 cricket is a gamble and it’s more so than any other format; anything can happen on the day, but that is once again not an excuse.
‘We had chances, we should have taken them, we didn’t and that is why we don’t deserve to be in the semis. You don’t win a World Cup on paper, you have to put the goods together.’
With the next T20 World Cup now four years away in 2020, it remains uncertain how many of the current squad would still be available, but Du Plessis said they learned some lessons in this one.
‘It’s difficult,’ he said. ‘Sometimes it’s a gamble. But the one thing that I can say is that we were poor in our extras. Every game we had more wides and more no-balls than the opposition. That is always a basic and a controllable.
‘The sad things is now it’s four years until the next T20 World Cup, it’s not every two years anymore, so obviously a few of the players here will not be there then. The challenge for this squad is to try and I suppose rest some of the senior players; see if they still want to go to the next World T20 and then with that you can bring some young players through.
‘I don’t think there is a lot of T20 cricket coming up this year. It will probably take a bit of a back seat, so when we get there we will re-assess again.’