South Africa went down by 104 runs in their World Cup opener.South Africa went down by 104 runs in their World Cup opener. © AFP
Faf du Plessis, the South African skipper, pinned the top order collapse as the key reason behind their disappointing 104-run loss against England in their World Cup opener.Jofra Archer pinged Hashim Amla on the grille and then removed both Aiden Markram and Faf du Plessis to leave South Africa in a spot of bother at 44 for 2, while chasing a sizeable target of 312. “I think the flow of innings, unfortunately, started with Hashim coming off the field. When you are chasing a big score like 310 (312) what you need is a good start,” du Plessis said.“You need to make sure that you settle the batters in the dressing room with a good partnership, whether it’s zero down or one down, but a good start is really important and obviously with him coming off, and then a few of us later, Aiden got out and then I got out.“When you go 3-down chasing a big score like that, you’re making it really tough for our batting unit to perform. And then the score just looks big. It looks too far. It looks too difficult to get there. You know, you’re going to play games. You’re going to come up against quality opposition. Today England was better than us in all three facets of the game. They showed why they are such a good cricket team, and now we have to look at the league. It’s a league competition,” he added.
On a slightly positive note, South Africa put up a fine show with the ball, especially in the slog overs to restrict England’s powerful batting unit. Du Plessis, on his part, praised Lungi Ngidi for the way he put behind his poor show with the new ball to pick up three scalps at the back-end of the innings. “Lungi, he’s got a beautiful action. Today, just off with the start. He’s normally a guy that is very, very balanced in the way that he bowls. He doesn’t offer a lot of bad balls.Today, there were a few up front, but that’s okay. That’s going to happen. And then the way he came back was beautiful. You know, to get Jos Buttler out, he’s probably one of the best strikers in the world.”
At the start of England’s innings, du Plessis also showed tactical nous by giving the new ball to Imran Tahir. The veteran legspinner responded to the challenge by picking up the scalp of the dangerous Jonny Bairstow. Du Plessis noted that the South African think-tank wanted to try something different against a power-packed England batting unit. “Not a surprise. It was a plan. It was something that we thought about a year ago already. I said when we played against England, there’s a feeling that, you know, I want to go with Immy because it is something different.”
Meanwhile, Archer, the England pacer, bowled with a fair amount of pace and mixed it up with variations to finish with three scalps. Du Plessis observed that Archer has a deceptive short ball and it would take time for opposition ranks to assess and work out ways to negate his threat. “He’s a little bit nippier when he hits the crease and that’s why he is such an X-factor bowler. He broke through our opening three there, and that pretty much was always going to be a tough ask from there.
“He bowls slower ball, slower ball, 80-percent ball, 80 percent ball and then a quick bouncer. When he bowls that short one, it is a bit quicker than his other balls, and the guys will get to understand that action better.”
“So when we get an opportunity to play against England again, we’ll know his short ball is his wicket ball. He’s not necessarily a guy that will swing, but his short ball will be his wicket-taking ball.