Shock loss to Pakistan ‘something of the past’

2015-03-11 00:00

WELLINGTON — It took three days for the South African cricket team to lick their wounds after the humiliating World Cup loss against Pakistan.

The Proteas were beaten (according to the Duckworth-Lewis system) by 29 runs at Eden Park after they were bowled out for a mere 202 while chasing a 232 winning score on Saturday.

According to Morné Morkel, South Africa’s best bowler at the tournament so far, the setback is “now something of the past”.

“We had a couple of days to reflect over what had happened in Auckland and it was important for us to lick our wounds. We had a very good team meeting this morning [yesterday] to discuss where things have gone wrong and we are now ready to move on,” said Morkel.

“One of the best things about this team is that we always find solutions. It does not help to only discuss it in the change room. We must be able to implement it when the pressure is on in front of 60 000 yelling spectators.”

Although not many spectators are expected to fill the Westpac Stadium for the Proteas’ last group match against the United Arab Emirates, Morkel feels that the minnows should not be under-estimated, especially not after England’s shock exit from the tournament after losing to Bangladesh.

“I was very surprised by that, but this is a warning to all of us — you cannot under-estimate the so-called smaller countries because they always have something to prove,” said Morkel.

“The UAE have good bowlers and their lack of pace makes it difficult to hit their balls. On top of it we have a lot to improve on since our last match.”

Only a lot of rain in the New Zealand capital or a cricket miracle could keep the Proteas from second place in Group B — which in all probability will mean a quarter-final meeting against Sri Lanka on March 18 in Sydney.

“Sri Lanka are a very dangerous team, as they showed in their match against Australia [which the Aussies won by 64 runs at the SCG]. They have an excellent record in the World Cup tournament and added to that a lot of experience in their batting line-up,” said Morkel.

“But first we have to focus our attention on the UAE because a good performance will give us valuable momentum before boarding the plane to Sydney.”

After they also struggled in this department in their earlier match against India, the South Africans are also keen to prove they can chase runs.

“We have learnt our lessons against Pakistan and India but we have also showed that we can fight back after a disappointment,” said Morkel.

“There are still 11 match winners in our team and we believe we are only three good performances away from lifting the cup.”

According to Morkel, seam bowler Vernon Philander will make his long awaited return after having missed three matches with a thigh muscle injury.

“Vernon is doing well and he works hard with Jacko [Brandon Jackson, the Proteas’ physiotherapist]. I am not a doctor but it appears as if he is close to playing again,” said Morkel.

The Proteas initially wanted to include Wayne Parnell and Aaron Phangiso, two of the players who did not have many playing opportunities, against the winless UAE. However, the loss against Pakistan and the fact that South Africa are not yet assured of a place in the knock-out phase of the tournament has probably scuppered this plan.

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