Bengaluru, June 6: South Africa are having their worst World Cup experience in the 2019 edition. The Proteas slumped to their third straight defeat in a span of seven days and could now struggle to extend their stay in the showpiece event.
After failing to chase two 300-plus targets against hosts England and a promising Bangladesh in their first two games, Faf du Plessis's men batted first against India but only to lose by six wickets this time.
A major problem with South Africa's performance has been, apart from injuries to some of their key bowlers, their batting.
In a team that historically had very few superstars but an unbeatable unit of individuals, there is no batsman who is considered worthy enough to push the side out of trouble. There is far too dependence on captain Du Plessis and a few like Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock but overall, it's a dim picture. South Africa certainly are missing someone of the calibre of AB de Villiers.
Now, in a revelation made recently, the dashing batsman who quit international cricket in May 2018 had approached the South African team management expressing his wish to feature in the World Cup. But his quest was not entertained for mainly two reasons. One, according to the report, he did not fit the selection policy since he has not played for the Proteas in the one year ahead of the big tournament. And two, his sudden return into the side would make it unfair for players like Rassie van der Dussen who have been trying to make a place in the team in the post-ABD times.
Was it really wise to ignore ABD's request given the performance Proteas have produced in this World Cup so far? The daggers will be out if South Africa crash out prematurely. However, one gets the impression that since the Proteas did well in their international assignments post ABD's departure, the belief settled in that they could do without the batsman on the highest stage as well.
Since South Africa lost 1-5 to India in the bilateral series at home early last year which was also De Villiers's last, they beat Sri Lanka 3-2 and Australia 2-1 in away series and Zimbabwe (3-0), Pakistan (3-2) and Sri Lanka (5-0) at home. These wins made the side confident even though none of them (even Australia had a poor run in 2018) had taken a real test of character.
The World Cup is a different ball game altogether. South Africa have been beaten by three teams that are playing good cricket at the moment while they have some players who are playing in their first World Cup and hence are still nervous. Inclusion of De Villiers, who still is a force with the bat at 35 and came up with a powerful performance in the recent Indian Premier League, would have boosted the side's strength. But the absence of De Villiers and Dale Steyn, who has been ruled out with injury has depleted South Africa to such an extent that recovery which seems tough.