It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish that really matters – and South Africa captain Faf du Plessis insists the Proteas can only get better after their opening-game 104-run defeat to England.
According to ICC media press release, South Africa bowled well to restrict England’s heavy-hitting batsman to 311-8 but their run-chase got off to a bad start when veteran opener Hashim Amla retired hurt after a hit to the head.
The right-hander later returned but South Africa struggled to regain control as England’s Jofra Archer bowled north of 90mph on his way to three wickets.
Quinton de Kock (68) and Rassie van der Dussen (50) put on 85 for the third wicket but when De Kock was caught off Liam Plunkett, their innings unraveled and they stumbled to 207 all out in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup opener.
“You are going to play games and come up against opposition that are better than you. England beat us in all three facets of the game,” said Du Plessis.
“As much as we are disappointed, we will want to learn from it quickly and put it to bed. We want to move on from it quickly.
“The flow of the innings, unfortunately, started with Hashim coming off. When you are chasing a big score like 312, you need a good start to settle the dressing room.
“A good start is really important. With him coming off, a few overs later Aiden [Markram] got out and then I got out. When you go three down, it becomes tough and the score looks big, it looks too far.
“The pitch was good enough.”
South Africa, who face Bangladesh in their second match at The Oval on Sunday, won the toss and put England into bat, where they revealed a masterful ploy right in the first over.
Despite possessing the third-best ODI fast bowler in the world in Kagiso Rabada, Du Plessis opted to give the first over to leg-spinner Imran Tahir and it worked wonders as the 40-year-old dismissed Jonny Bairstow with just the second ball of the tournament.
Tahir finished with 2/61, while Rabada and fellow quick Lungi Ngidi came back to take wickets at the death.
“It was a plan,” Du Plessis said.
“It was something we first thought about a year ago. When we played against England, I thought we want to go with him because it is different.
“At The Oval, you want to bowl two seamers first but we went with what I thought was the best way to get a wicket. I went with my gut.
“Imran had not bowled with the new ball before so he had been practicing that for the last two weeks. He knew he was going to do that today.”