Emotions running high as creaking Proteas face CWC collapse

Faf du Plessis (Getty)
Faf du Plessis (Getty)

Southampton - The Proteas are creaking and on the verge of collapse at the Cricket World Cup in England. 

As a result, emotions are running high. 

There were improvements in Wednesday's six-wicket loss to India at the Rose Bowl, but they do not take away from the fact that the South Africans have lost all three of their matches at the tournament and now need a miracle to make the semi-finals. 

There are just six pool matches left for the Proteas, who have had a week from hell since losing to England last Thursday, and the general consensus is that they must win all of them to qualify. 

With injuries having plagued their campaign so far in England, the character of this Proteas group is being tested more than ever.

The doom and gloom reached new depths on Wednesday.

Just 24 hours earlier, Faf du Plessis spoke about how important his role had become after losses to England and Bangladesh and injuries to Dale Steyn (who is out of the World Cup) and Lungi Ngidi (out for two weeks).

"For myself, it's really important to stay strong," the captain said at the time.

"My position that I'm in is I'm the captain of the team right now and players are looking for someone to lead them. So all I can do is try my absolute best to try and do that."

That will almost certainly be a harder task following the India loss, and at Wednesday's post-match press conference, Du Plessis was nowhere to be seen. 

Instead, Chris Morris fronted up to the media. 

The skipper also looked a forlorn figure as the Proteas made their way to their hotel rooms, which are on the Rose Bowl premises, at the end of another long, unforgiving outing. 

The days that follow will undoubtedly be the most testing period of Du Plessis' captaincy, and they will be testing for everyone in this squad. 

"We're in a bad situation," Proteas opener Hashim Amla said.

"We've played pretty average cricket and we need to turn it around by playing our best cricket."

Amla acknowledged that emotions were running high in the Proteas dressing room in the minutes following the end of the game. 

"We've got to play better ... that was the crux of it," he said was the message from Du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson.

"Having to win six out of six means you have to play your best cricket, and that's all it boils down to.

"We're all disappointed, but we've got five days before the next game. You've got to allow some time for guys to introspect."

While the Proteas were comfortably second best at the end of the day, they did at least show a doggedness in the field that seemed to be lacking in their first two matches. 

It wasn't enough to change the result, but they were clearly up for this contest.

"I don't think there is a lack of motivation," Amla said.

"Body language will always come up when you lose a game or two, or three. I certainly don't think anyone could fault body language today ... we fought.

"Everybody wants to perform ... there is no doubt about that. We're out there practising and doing everything we can to put the numbers on the board."

The Proteas are next in action when they take on the West Indies, also in Southampton, on Monday. 

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ... 

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