Dubai: South African captain Faf du Plessis indirectly blamed the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Proteas missing their main weapon, Dale Steyn, in their World Cup campaign.
Speaking at the prematch conference at the Rose Bowl, Du Plessis said: “Unfortunately, it happened there in the IPL in those two games that he played there. If Dale Steyn hadn’t gone to the IPL, who knows how it could have been today.”
One could feel his pain as Steyn’s presence on a helpful wicket could have provided Kagiso Rabada the right support to put the Indian batsmen under tremendous pressure to defend a decent total.
Steyn, who had a long history of injuries, was ruled out of the showpiece after flaring up a shoulder injury during on April 21. Incidentally, it was against Faf, who played for Chennai Super Kings, and had figures of 2-21,
But with a bit of luck, South Africa could have gone past India in Southampton on Wednesday as centurion Rohit Sharma survived a few chances early in his innings against Rabada, who was steaming in to give South Africa the edge in the contest.
South Africa have been unlucky in the World Cups since their debut in 1992 in Australia and New Zealand. A distraught South African players walking back after a silly rain rule changed the target to 22 runs off one ball in the semi-final against England.
In 1999, Herschelle Gibbs dropped skipper Steve Waugh when the South Africans had Australia on the mat in the semi-finals. Waugh said the immortal words: “Mate, you have just dropped the Wold Cup,” before going on to score a match-winning unbeaten 120. Even in 2015, South Africa were knocked out by hosts New Zealand from a seemingly winning position.
With three losses from three matches in this edition, South Africa are looking at the barrel. However, the men in green could take solace from the fact that another men in green, Pakistan, who almost had suffered a similar fate, losing three, rained off one and one win in their first five matches, in the same format in 1992.
But the difference was Pakistan had a leader in Imran Khan, who could regroup the team to turn their fortunes around. Now it is time for the South African skipper to play a similar role to avoid getting eliminated early in the showpiece.