South Africa had plenty at stake in their clash against New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday. The Proteas were gunning for revenge for the way how they were eliminated from the 2015 World Cup semifinal while they were looking to exorcise the ghosts of 1999 where at the same venue, their semifinal against Australia ended in a tie and in the most brutal way, their chances of heading to the World Cup final were over. However, South Africa struggled on a sluggish pitch in Birmingham and despite a good fightback from the bowlers, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson scored his maiden ton and helped New Zealand over the line by four wickets.
The result meant that South Africa is all but out of the reckoning for the semi-finals, having secured just three points from six games. Although their next three games are must-wins, they must hope from a slip-up from England, Australia, New Zealand, India and Bangladesh to ensure they make it to the last four. Speaking after the end of the match, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis said his team’s batting unit, when looked at from a numbers point of view, do not feature in the top three.
“If you look at our batting unit, we've got some future talent and some promising players, but if you put our top six and you put the other top sixes around the world, purely on a numbers point of view, we won't be in the top three,” du Plessis stressed.
The Proteas skipper admitted that Kane Williamson’s knock was the difference between the two sides. “Kane played a great knock, you know. It's probably the difference between the two sides, just one guy taking it through. You need someone to go further, and we haven't had that,” du Plessis said.
South Africa did not help their cause by dropping catches of Williamson and Colin de Grandhomme. However, when Williamson was on 76, he apparently edged Imran Tahir to Quinton de Kock and the keeper did not appeal and opt for the review. Williamson went on to hurt South Africa but du Plessis admitted that the moment did not cost South Africa the game.
"I think I was at long on at the time, and Quinny is the closest to the action. That's not where the game was won and lost,” du Plessis said.
South Africa next play Pakistan on June 23 while New Zealand could seal their spot in the semi-final by winning against New Zealand on June 22 in the Day-Night fixture at Manchester.