Faf du Plessis says the team let their skipper AB de Villiers down, as their defeat to India saw them knocked out in the group stage.
India have made it a habit of beating the Proteas when it matters most. For the third major tournament in a row India have beaten South Africa, and while the previous two were group-stage matches, this one decided South Africa’s fate.
Winning when it matters most doesn’t seem to be too difficult for India. They’ve won two World Cups, two Champions Trophies and a World T20, and that big-match temperament shone through again at The Oval on Sunday, against a side that are unable to handle the pressure situations on the biggest stage.
‘I don’t know what happened,’ said Du Plessis after the game. We were ready as a team. We wanted to get the basics right and we didn’t. We were poor.
‘If you look at India, they do that very well in big moments.’
The loss for explanation as to why the Proteas endured a miserable campaign runs through the team, as skipper De Villiers couldn’t provide a reason either why they played so poorly against Pakistan and India.
‘This whole tournament we haven’t played the cricket we’ve played the whole year,’ added Du Plessis. ‘The reason is unknown. Everyone has a job to do this in this team and we couldn’t do it.
‘We’ve been doing everything we should have this year; we’ve ticked all the boxes. I think our brand of cricket has transformed, and we wanted to do it in this tournament.’
In what was almost a carbon copy of the run-out in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand, De Villiers was run out after Du Plessis attempted a quick single. The incident was identified by Indian captain Virat Kohli as the turning point in the match.
‘I take full responsibility for AB’s run-out; it was my fault,’ Du Plessis admitted. ‘He’s a big player for us and he was looking good and it was crunch time in the game.’
The public and media alike have called for Du Plessis to take the reins in all formats, with De Villiers’ captaincy coming under heavy scrutiny in the tournament. The Test and T20 skipper feels that it was the side that let De Villiers down, not the other way around.
‘It’s so hard to put all the pressure and blame on AB,’ he continued. ‘I can certainly tell you he’s led the team well; the team let him down. We weren’t even beaten by a better team, we just played our worst cricket for a while.
‘2015 was the lowest point of my career because I thought that was our time. Today I don’t feel the same, because we just rocked up and it wasn’t there.’