Skipper Faf du Plessis said the victory over Sri Lanka left him with a “bittersweet” feeling as it came a “little bit too late” for South Africa, who are already out of contention for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
Du Plessis top-scored with a 103-ball 96 as South Africa beat Sri Lanka by nine wicket Friday for only their second win in the tournament.
“Long time coming hey. It was a good game, we did ourselves justice with the talent we have in that dressing room. Set up by a good bowling performance. Dwaine (Pretorius) was exceptional,” said Du Plessis after South Africa overhauled the target of 203, scoring 207 for one in 37.2 overs.
“We’ve been trying to get him into the XI, but it’s a balance thing. The nature of the wicket told me it needed to be straight lines with the ball, and that’s why I brought Dwaine and Andile on early.
“Line and length was harder to face than pace on that wicket. (This win) feels bittersweet. It doesn’t feel like it means that much. It’s a little bit too late,” he added.
Du Plessis said after seven games, South African batsmen finally managed to put up a decent show with the bat in the World Cup.
“But the basics of batting were shown today. We haven’t had guys batting through, and big partnerships, but that was the case today. One big partnership, and suddenly everything seems so much easier,” he said.
“Bangladesh was the one that really took the wind out of our sails. England were too good for us on that day. Bangladesh really sucker-punched us in the stomach, and then we took that into the next game, the first week really set us back, but we can’t use that as an excuse.”
Former champions Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are all but out of the tournament after the Islanders produced another dismal batting show.
With just six points from seven games, Sri Lanka still have a mathematical chance to be in the semi-finals. But for that, they first need to win their last two games against already-eliminated West Indies (on July 1) and India (July 6) and then depend on favourable results from other remaining league stage games.
After going down by nine-wickets to South Africa, skipper Dimuth Karunaratne blamed his side’s batting approach, which according to him was the architect of the defeat.
“All departments went wrong, especially the batting. Kusal (Perera) and Avishka (Fernando) batted really well, we struggled to get even singles. If you can’t rotate the strike, it’s not easy. There’s pressure, and then there are big shots. The wicket got better and better, and South Africa batted really well,” he said.
“The pitch was a bit slow, and South Africa bowled really well. They built pressure and kept fielders in the ring. They planned really well. We couldn’t get singles. We needed to get wickets early.
“(Lasith) Malinga started really well, but at the other end we couldn’t build pressure. These are the sorts of things we need to think about and learn from. We have two more games, we have to win those two games. We have to work hard in all three departments. Heads up, and hopefully we’ll do well.”