Birmingham, June 20: Faf du Plessis claims he couldn't have asked for any more from his South Africa side after they slipped to a narrow defeat against New Zealand.
South Africa went down by four wickets, with just three balls remaining, at Edgbaston to suffer a fourth defeat and significantly reduce their chances of reaching the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 semi-finals.
Despite being extremely disappointed with the outcome of the match, Du Plessis recognised that his men did as much as they could against a team they haven't beaten at a World Cup for 20 years.
"It's tough. You can feel it in the dressing room - the guys are hurting," said the skipper. "We left everything out there. That's all I can ask for as a captain.
"We've just not been as good as the opposition we've played against."
And none of South Africa's batsmen were able to emulate Kane Williamson, whose unbeaten century anchored New Zealand's successful chase of 242 and particularly impressed Du Plessis.
"Kane played a great knock. It's probably the difference between the two sides, just one guy taking it through," he added.
"I thought it was a really good knock, showing how to put innings together on a pitch that you need to decide when to push and when to hold back, and he picked his battles.
"He targeted a few overs in the game, and the rest he just ticked it off. So really good from him."
Williamson did not win the match alone and had the support of Colin de Grandhomme who scored 60 off 47 balls and shared in a 91-run sixth-wicket stand.
South Africa's highest partnership was 72 runs and none of their batsmen have scored a hundred at the tournament so far, something which du Plessis put down to the transition period the squad finds itself in.
"If you compare our line-up, especially our batting line-up, to other line-ups around the world, purely on a numbers point of view, that doesn't stack up with the rest of the world," he said.
"We're not as experienced perhaps as other teams when it comes to that. The reason why I say not as good as other teams is we're just not producing scores or innings that can win you games.
"We've got some young players, so there's a future there. I've really backed them this tournament and I think they've got a great future ahead of them.
"Rassie (van der Dussen) has shown that he's the real deal. I think he's got leadership capabilities as well. He's standing up to be a strong man in a big tournament for us.
"Andile (Phehlukwayo) has done well as a young guy. Aiden (Markram), we know the kind of player he is. He showed signs here that he can do it."
South Africa will go into the remainder of the tournament with those positives.
They are scheduled to play against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia, and Du Plessis has promised to keep fighting, even if a semi-final spot eludes his team.
He added: "If you put everything out there and the better teams beat you, then life will go on.
"Obviously, I'm extremely disappointed. Cricket means a lot to me, and the performance of this team means a lot to me but I certainly can't, if results don't go our way, start running in the other direction.
"That's not my character. So I'll keep pushing forward and facing north, and hopefully that will be good for the team, and it will be good for myself as well."