On Wednesday, South Africa were returning to Edgbaston, the venue of their heartwrenching defeat in 1999 World Cup semi-final against Australia, between them and the 22 yards were New Zealand. After a respectable fight against the Kiwis, yet again, the result of the match didn’t favor the Proteas. The start of the match was delayed due to a wet outfield and was reduced to 49 overs per side. South Africa were put to bat by New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson after winning the toss.
Having just won one out of their five matches, South Africa took the field to keep their World Cup campaign alive. This was a must-win match for South Africa to put two crucial points in their account in the World Cup standings.
But there is something about South Africa choking at World Cups. Faf du Plessis and his men missed several opportunities on the field.
Here's what the 'Voice of Indian Cricket' Harsha Bhogle had to say about South Africa's poor performance at World Cups.
The blunders just didn’t stop. The replays confirmed that Williamson (76* at the time) had bottom-edged Imran Tahir's final delivery, but South Africa opted against taking a review as wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock did not hear anything despite taking the catch. De Grandhomme, meanwhile, was dropped by a diving David Miller off Tahir when he was on 22*, if not these missed chances, South Africa also missed a golden opportunity to have Williamson run out after a mix-up with De Grandhomme. Rabada gathered the ball off his own bowling, but his mistimed throw to the bowler's end could not be gathered by Miller and Williamson, somehow, escaped.
Batting first, Hashim Amla (55 off 83) and Rassie van der Dussen (67 off 64) were the only significant contributors, the rest of the batting line up couldn’t fire. South Africa managed to set a target of 242 for New Zealand.
In the second innings, South Africa got off to a strong start when Rabada dismissed Colin Munro early on. Chris Morris' 3 wickets kept New Zealand at 80/4 in 18.1 overs but Kane Williamson (106* off 138) and Colin de Grandhomme (60 off 47), through matchwinning performances and a pinch of luck, ultimately got New Zealand over the line.
With just three more matches left in their World Cup campaign, even a miracle won’t be enough for them to reach the semis. South African skipper Faf du Plessis sounded helpless in the post-match conference.
"You know, it's tough now. Like you can feel in the dressing room, the guys are hurting. I'm feeling five years older. My body is really sore after that," he said. " So we left everything out there, and that's all I can ask for as a captain, that the guys fought. They showed that."
The world No. 4 ODI side, South Africa, will hope to redeem themselves in the coming games. South Africa will play Pakistan next on 23 June.