South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis has vowed to fight on despite a shock 21-run defeat to Bangladesh at the Oval on Sunday that has left his side winless after two games at the World Cup, writes DANIEL GALLAN in London.
Despite hitting 62 runs himself, he was unable to power the Proteas to a World Cup-record chase of 331 as Bangladesh’s bowlers picked up regular wickets and kept the South Africans at arm’s length.
‘I have to believe that [we still have a chance of winning the World Cup],’ said Du Plessis said after the loss. ‘I wouldn’t be South African if I said “no”.’
Du Plessis also urged the fans to keep the faith in his side and appreciate that injuries to his fast bowlers have curtailed all pre-tournament plans.
Anrich Nortje, who bowls at 145km/h, suffered a hand injury on the eve of the competition and was replaced by Chris Morris, a decent all-rounder, but hardly someone considered a strike bowler.
Dale Steyn’s recurring shoulder injury has prevented him from taking part so far in the UK, though he might make a return for the India clash on Wednesday.
Lungi Ngidi bowled four expensive overs on Sunday before he joined the injured list and limped off with a hamstring injury. This has left the skipper in a bind, searching for answers.
‘We wanted to use four fast seamers before the tournament, but obviously that has changed completely,’ said the captain.
‘But injuries or not, our skill is not where it needs to be. Every single player in our dressing room is not playing to his full potential and that’s why we’re not putting the performance on. As soon as that starts happening, then things will change.’
Du Plessis did not shirk his responsibility and conveyed his disappointment on his own performance. Though he top-scored, his dismissal was an untimely one, resulting from a rash charge down the wicket to Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s off-spinner that beat him in the flight and clipped his wickets on the way through.
‘You need to go through and score hundreds to chase down scores like this,’ he said. ‘That’s what’s going to win you matches. Not thirties, forties and fifties.’
The game against India could represent a do-or-die affair. Lose to Virat Kohli’s men and Du Plessis may be forced to meander through the tournament with nothing but pride to play for.
‘We’re playing a strong team who are playing their first game of the competition. We’ll be playing our third. We know we’re not good enough at the moment and we have to turn it around.’
– Daniel Gallan is a freelance sports writer, follow him on Twitter: @danielgallan