Let me start by saying RSA have lost such games in bilateral series as well. Such losses are not a WC exclusive, it’s just that people don’t pay much attention to their games outside and it becomes a “If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear, did it fall” thing. I am not denying that WC matches are more meaningful but I want to fight the notion that RSA become a different team at the WCs. That narrative is just a marketing gimmick, kind of how love is.
To make my case, I need not look further than the match that saw Pakistan win a bilateral series against South Africa for the very first time. AB played a marvelous hand on that day too and failed to get his team across the finish line. Amla was at fault today but even more so on that day. Miller and JP were involved on both occasions as well- as helpless parties.
They were chasing 263 from 45 overs. When AB arrived at the wicket, the equation was 146 needed off 116 with 7 wickets in hand. By the time he was dismissed for 74 (45), he had brought the equation down to 36 needed off 38 with 6 wickets in hand. Amla was in the 90s, and JP and Miller were the batsmen waiting. They went on to lose the game by a run. Go figure.
It’s hard to say which defeat among the two is worse. While they certainly threw away that match from a far more comfortable position, today’s defeat was set up by ill-gained cockiness. Just look at Rossouw’s I-am-brimming-with-confidence dismissal and Amla’s I-got-this innings.
They have lost to two Asian teams so far. An exit at the hands of another Asian side at the QF stage beckons. I hate being right.