A lack of responsibility from an experienced top-order was the reason for the Proteas snapping their winning streak in One-day Internationals at 13 matches.
Captain AB de Villiers on Wednesday admitted the agonising six-run defeat to New Zealand in Christchurch was down to him and Quinton de Kock not building on their good starts.
De Kock looked well-set on 57 before holing out at deep mid-wicket, while South Africa’s skipper wafted at a slower bouncer.
“We might’ve batted to No 10 in our order but it was still down to the top six to take the lead,” said De Villiers.
“Two of us got in and didn’t take it through. If one of us did, it would’ve been a different story. It was unfortunate. There were also a few soft dismissals.”
As a result, it was left to rookies Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo to keep the Proteas in the game and they did so admirably.
Pretorius in particular has given the selectors a nice headache with a brilliant 50 off 27 balls, following a good spell of 2/40.
“It was great to see the less experienced guys playing with confidence and freedom,” said De Villiers.
“It actually illustrates our team culture. They are backed fully by the ‘older’ guys and team management. It’s great to see when players express their talents.”
Phehlukwayo was criticised in some quarters for “stealing” the strike in the last over, when the Proteas required 15 off the last over.
The young all-rounder – the hero at the weekend in Hamilton – instead didn’t score a run off the first four balls as he had to dig out Tim Southee’s superb yorkers before hitting fours off the last two.
He also didn’t choose to run with only Imran Tahir left as his batting partner.
But De Villiers said Phehlukwayo was blameless.
“I had no problem with Andile staying on strike,” he said.
“We needed two sixes and Andile was the only guy capable of doing it in that situation. You have to credit Tim and Trent (Boult) for the brilliant way they bowled at the death.”