“We did not bat according to plan but we threw everything into it in the field,” Proteas captain Temba Bavuma said after South Africa began their T20 World Cup campaign in disappointing fashion with a five-wicket loss to Australia in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
The comment about the batting is an understatement after the Proteas could only muster together 118 for nine in their 20 overs.
As bad as their batting was, they certainly gave it their all with the ball and in the field as they made Australia sweat, the target only being chased down with two balls to spare.
Going into the last four overs, it even looked possible for South Africa to snatch victory at the death as Australia, having just lost two wickets in four balls, had two new batsmen at the crease, needing 36 runs off 24 balls to win.
But those batsmen were Marcus Stoinis (24* off 15) and Matthew Wade (15* off 10) and they fought hard to deny the Proteas with their unbroken stand of 40 off 29 balls.
“It was quite tough in the second half of the game knowing we only posted 118,” Bavuma said. “So I just asked the bowlers to stick with the plan and execute as well as they can, and for the fielders to throw everything into it.
“We wanted to try and build some pressure and I felt we did that. We spoke about being resilient and it was a great effort for the majority of the Australia innings.
“We did not bat according to plan and there’s a lot us batsmen need to improve. The bowlers did quite well, although at the end it was a bit frantic and maybe that’s something we can talk about.
“The fielding was good, barring one or two incidents. But we will obviously be looking to improve by a couple of percentage points in all departments,” Bavuma said.
‘Bring our best cricket’
If there has been one area of the game where South Africa have disappointed in recent times, it would be the batting, and they are relying on better starts from Quinton de Kock and Bavuma so the middle-order are able to come in and dominate.
The Proteas are now in a group with both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, who although they had to qualify, are now in groove and playing in conditions that suit them. South Africa play the West Indies next in Dubai on Tuesday and they are going to need their batsmen to stand up quickly, because another defeat would probably mean the end of their challenge.
“Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are two subcontinent teams playing in their own conditions, so that makes the group a lot tougher. We know now that every game we are going to have to bring our best cricket,” Bavuma admitted.