South Africa were one of the favourites for the World Cup title, but they were the second team after No 10 Afghanistan to be knocked out of the race for semi-finals. South Africa’s campaign was in problem even before the World Cup started. They carried an injured Dale Steyn into the World Cup who was eventually ruled out of the tournament. Their batting failed to fire and they had to suffer an embarrassing World Cup campaign.
So, what are the reasons for South Africa’s debacle in World Cup?
Participation of key players in IPL hurt them
Dale Steyn was fully fit before RCB coach Gary Kirsten asked him to join the squad. Steyn picked up a shoulder injury after playing just few games in IPL. He never recovered on time and had to withdraw from the tournament after sitting out for first few games.
Similarly, K Rabada played for Delhi Daredevils in IPL and was the standout bowler for them. But a back injury saw South Africa calling the pacer early from IPL. But Rabada, short of recovery period, was never the same bowler again. He managed just 8 wickets in 8 games so far. And South Africa struggled as their premier bowler failed to fire.
Besides, South Africa kickstarted the tournament with the opening game against England, giving not enough time for their IPL players to recover.
AB de Villiers’ controversy
South Africa failed to find a suitable replacement for AB de Villiers who retired just a year before the World Cup. During their disastrous World Cup campaign, it emerged ABD had offered himself for selection in the World Cup but he was denied. It added another controversy to South Africa’s derailed campaign. It was a revelation from South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis at the wrong time. ABD’s replacement Rassie van der Dussen wasn’t of the same league as the retired player.
Collective batting failure
Few of the South Africa batsmen are in the twilight of their careers and they were expected to drive the campaign but they could not do it consistently. Amla, Du Plessis, JP Duminy failed to set the stage on fire. These three have played their last World Cup and heads would roll after the tournament. Young guns Quinton de Kock & David Miller did not play up to expectations either. Not a single batsman from South Africa made a century in 8 games and it tells the sorry state of their batting affairs.
Failing to grab chances
South Africa choked in key matches against India and New Zealand. They failed to deliver the knockout punch and let the opposition wriggle out of their grasp. They dropped Rohit Sharma a couple of times before the Hitman scored a ton to take India through. In the game against New Zealand, they had the opposition under their control, but failed to knock them off. A brilliant century from Kane Williamson saw New Zealand home in the last over against the Proteas. South Africa choked at the most crucial phase to get themselves knocked out.
Bowling and fielding lapses
South Africa took pride in being the best fielding unit. But their fielding was below par. They dropped catches at critical juncture of the game to lose the plot. They also missed their two frontline bowlers Steyn (for the full tournament) and Lungi Ngidi (for few matches) badly as the tournament progressed. A tired Rabada could not live up to expectations. Their backup Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo fought and give their best account of themselves, but South Africa could not recover from the early jolts and crashed out of the tournament.