World Cup 2019: What’s wrong with South Africa?

Chennai: South Africa led by Faf du Plessis arrived in England as one of the favourites to lift the World Cup. Within a week, their fortunes changed as they ended up losing three matches in a row. They are finding themselves in a tough situation after a crushing defeat against India last night.

However, there is still some hope left in their camp as they have to win all six remaining matches to find a place in last four. They now have a week to contemplate this latest loss and find ways to get back to winning ways against the West Indies Monday.

Against a formidable England batting lineup, South Africa succumbed to a heavy 104-runs defeat before a valiant Bangladeshi side restricted them to 21 short of the target of 331 at the Oval. India scored a thumping win last night.

But sports experts say, all hope is not lost. “Remember 1992 World Cup. It was all teams play all teams format. And, Pakistan, which lifted the trophy then, managed just one win in their first five matches. They played the latter half of the tournament perfectly. South Africa can take a cue from their performance.”

Unfortunately for South Africa, their openers de Kock and Hashim Amla have not been in great touch. Their middle order too looks brittle. Miller and Duminy look very patchy. And their bowling was considered their strong weapon. Unfortunately it looks pedestrian barring Rabada’s fiery spell. Steyn and Ngidi out injured has rubbed salt on their wounds.

Sarvesh, a cricket enthusiast, says, “South African players are thorough professionals. They always make an impact in any tournament straightaway. They may choke towards the end. In this World Cup, they look an ordinary team. Their ground fielding has been miserable. They have dropped sitters.”

du Plessis, on the miserable show so far, said, “It’s a change-room that is hurting. We’re trying to make sure that we keep fighting, but we’re still making mistakes all the time. You need one guy batting through. And then if you can get a total, your bowlers can try and put some pressure on. But to have so many 30s and 40s is not acceptable.”

Interestingly, South Africa, before coming to World Cup, won eight out of their last 10 matches. They felt things were going in their favour. But today, an Herculean task stares at them. The Proteas side have lost three World Cup games in a row for the first time ever in what is their eighth WC appearance.

Coming week will be crucial as the South African skipper himself said, “We will sort that out in our heads and will go back to the drawing board and take on our next opponent. It’s pretty simple – win the next six and crack on. Maybe we need a bit of luck to go our way.”

M BHARAT KUMAR