Castle Lager Proteas will have four days to regroup before their next encounter against the West Indies in Sydney, following their heavy loss to India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday February 22.
Proteas captain AB de Villiers admitted that his side was outplayed by a spirited Indian outfit, a defeat he feels is a tough pill to swallow early on in the competition.
“It’s a big knock for us to get beaten by 130 runs,” De Villiers said after the match. “It’s almost embarrassing. You never want to lose by that number of runs. You always want to be a competitive team and feel like you are in the game. We pride ourselves on that and it didn’t happen today.”
De Villiers emphasised the key role the coaching staff and senior players will play in helping the squad to refocus ahead of their “must-win” match against the West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Friday February 27.
“We are going to have to lick our wounds, your confidence takes a knock with performances like those, and it’s up to the senior group of players to make sure that the confidence is up there come Friday against the West Indies,” he said. “Little things like today’s performance can creep into your game if you start thinking about it too much and allow it to knock your confidence.
“There are a few things that need to happen,” he said. “Obviously after a loss like that, you want to recover and regroup as a unit. Come tomorrow we will put all of our focus on Friday. It’s a big must-win match for us in Sydney.”
There were few positives from the disappointing performance. However, the team can take some confidence after curbing the Indian batsmen in the death overs, along with the continued rise of Imran Tahir.
“I was very impressed with his performance,” De Villiers said of Tahir. “He played against a team renowned for the way they play spin bowling. India is probably the best batting unit against spin-bowling. There were a lot of questions about whether or not he was going to play before the game so I’m proud of the way he performed tonight against world-class players of spin. He showed that he is right up there as one of the best spinners in the world.”
Vernon Philander was only able to bowl four overs, before leaving the field due to a hamstring injury. He will undergo scans on today, Monday, to determine the extent of the injury. The squad travels to Sydney on Monday, and will begin preparations for the match on Tuesday.
India produced a dominating performance with bat and ball and in the field to outplay the Castle Lager Proteas to the extent of a 130-runs victory in their ICC World Cup Pool B match at Melbourne on Sunday.
It was India’s third biggest winning margin against South Africa, their first in a World Cup match and by far the largest outside the sub-continent.
India’s victory was set up by two century partnerships, after they had lost Rohit Sharma run out in the third over, thanks to a brilliant direct hit from extra cover by AB de Villiers, after India had won the toss.
Man-of-the-match Shikhar Dhawan (137 off 146 balls, 16 fours and 2 sixes), and Virat Kohli (46 off 60 balls, 3 fours) put on 127 for the second wicket, and Shikhar and Ajinkya Rahane (79 off 60 balls, 7 fours and 3 sixes) a further 125 for the third wicket.
The Proteas fought back strongly towards the end of the innings, limiting India to 80/5 in the last 10 overs, in spite of the loss of Vernon Philander, who broke down with a leg injury and was only able to bowl four overs. Under these circumstances the decision to play Wayne Parnell as a fifth specialist bowler ahead of Farhaan Behardien was an important one.
Chasing more than 300 for victory, the Proteas needed a strong reply, but they lost too many wickets too quickly, and their position was not helped by two run-outs among the top six. There were several other soft dismissals.
What must be particularly disturbing is that, starting from the run-out of De Villiers, they lost eight wickets for 69 runs and barely batted through 40 overs.
The Proteas’ next match is against the West Indies on Friday.