Dubai, Oct. 26: South African captain Temba Bavuma on Tuesday revealed that Quinton de Kock's withdrawal over Cricket South Africa's directive to take the knee "did kind of take us back as a team" before their T20 World Cup match against West Indies here.
The Proteas though still won the match, and that too, by a handsome margin of eight wickets.
Following CSA's directive to its players to take the knee in support of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, de Kock withdrew from the Super 12 game, laying bare the growing internal tension on the matter.
Asked if de Kock's absence inspired the team or got in the way, Bavuma said, "I guess a bit of both."
"To be honest, when the news hit us it did kind of take us back as a team. A guy like Quinnie, he obviously plays an integral role within the team, not just with the bat but as a senior player," Bavuma added at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Aiden Markram struck a whirlwind unbeaten fifty as South Africa produced an all-round effort to bounce back strongly from their opening defeat and beat West Indies to secure their first win in the Super 12 stage.
"With (Henrich) Kalssen coming in it was an opportunity for him and at the end of the day it was another day of cricket for us to play for our country and we had to make sure we live up to that," Bavuma said.
The knowledge that the pace duo of Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, who featured in the recently-concluded IPL, are passing on to their teammates has played a huge role in South Africa's excellent bowling in both matches, according to Bavuma.
"I think the conversations we have on the field are a lot shorter, a lot clearer on what to do, and they (Rabada and Nortje) pass on information to other bowlers as well. Their knowledge has been a positive one for us."
West Indies struggled against England spinners in their first game and South Africa took cue from that, handing the ball to Markram, who bowled well and also hit an unbeaten half-century.
"We were all watching that game, but weren't sure how the wicket was going to react, so we thought Aiden could have a go and he did well. "Those are the types of performance we are looking forward to from our batters, Aiden is hitting the ball really well at the moment," Bavuma said.
West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard was once again left disappointed by the team's batting display.
"We haven't scored enough runs. Batters haven't come to the party, again disappointing today. It was a total disappointing batting effort. I thought the bowlers did well to bring it down to 18 odd overs. Batting has disappointed us, which is why we lost today."
Asked about Lendl Simmons' innings (16 off 35 balls), Pollard backed the struggling opener. "Yes he (Simmons) got stuck, these things happen. After six overs he was there and we wanted to bat a couple of more overs without losing wickets but you are not going to get me pinpoint and you are not going to get me throwing my players under the bus.
"At the end of the day he was out there trying for us. Yes he may not have got it done, but when you look at it... Rassie (van der Dussen) played for them, the only difference is he came out not out but his strike rate was low as well."
Having lost two matches by a considerable margin, West Indies not only have to win their next three matches but also have to improve their net run rate. "We need to win first before thinking of net run rate."
Player of the Match Nortje (1/14) said playing in the IPL has helped him get familiar with the conditions. "100 percent, it's helped me quite a lot. It's helped us as well being able to give some information to the team on conditions, that's probably the situation for all the players in all the teams.
"Just having the confidence of knowing the conditions and understanding what to do, when to do it definitely has helped me coming here."