Kolkata, Nov 17: After South Africa’s campaign in 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup came to an end with a three-wicket semi-final defeat to Australia, captain Temba Bavuma admitted that the way Proteas began with the bat and ball turned out to be the turning point of the match for his team.
"Quite hard to put into words. They were outstanding for a large part of the game and thoroughly deserved victory. Looking at the result, I think the way we started with the bat and the ball was probably the turning point. We lost it quite badly there and we always had to play catch-up to get ourselves back into the game," said Bavuma to broadcasters after the game ended.
After electing to bat first, South Africa were 24/4 in 12 overs, thanks to some Test match bowling from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. They then allowed Australia to score 74/2 in their first ten overs of the chase, thereby sealing the deal for the five-time champions, although the Proteas did try to stage a comeback in the game.
"The conditions, combined with the quality of the attack. I thought Hazlewood as well as Starc upfront were ruthless. They exploited every bit of advantage that was presented to them with the conditions and they really put us under pressure. When you're 4 for 24, you're always going to struggle to get a competitive total," added Bavuma.
Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj did bring South Africa back in the game by dismissing Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell, but spilling some chances costed South Africa. Head was dropped on 40 in the 12th over by substitute fielder Reeza Hendricks and in the 18th over, Quinton de Kock nearly held on to a very tough chance of Steven Smith.
"Definitely, we had chances, tough chances that we put down, There were half-chances as well, but (they) bounced in front of us, maybe we could have been more proactive, getting guys in a bit closer, but I guess when the margins are like that, you need things to go your way. But it doesn't take away from the fact that Australia put a good display of cricket out there," stated Bavuma.
With the bat, David Miller soaked in pressure and hanged around to make 101 off 116 balls, hitting eight fours and five sixes. He stitched a 95-run stand with Heinrich Klassen and was severe on leg-spinner Adam Zampa, against whom he slammed all of his sixes in Thursday’s match.
"We were gaining some momentum with that partnership between David Miller and Klaasy. We would have liked Klaasen to go on longer and we've seen how destructive he can be when he gets to the latter part of the innings. David Miller's innings was superb, really captures the character of our team and for him to go and play like that in that pressure situation in a World Cup speaks about the player, not just his talent but his mental capacity," said Bavuma.
Bavuma signed off by praising young fast bowler Gerald Coetzee, who became South Africa’s leading wicket-taker with 20 scalps at an average of 19.80. "As a young guy, he really was the warrior for us."
"I think at that time for the seamers there wasn't much happening for him to be able to come around the wicket and bowl with the intensity and pressure that he did, and obviously get the big wicket of Steve Smith, get us back into the game, and him not wanting to let go off the ball. He kept on going, he was cramping but he kept going. He'll be a big asset for South African cricket going forward." (IANS)