It feels like South Africa are being punished for some crime they committed at some point in their lives. Perhaps it is because their government used apartheid. Perhaps it is because the Dutch who lived in Cape Town conquered the whole of South Africa after Shaka Zulu invaded and lost. Perhaps it is because they combated racism with racism by having a quota system. Whatever the situation, they sure are unlucky. It is notable that this, the 8th match of the World Cup, was South Africa’s 3rd, and India’s 1st. India had a dream run, getting to wait this late before having their first game, a result of their requests to the ICC for a delayed start so as to not interfere with the IPL. Just hours before the start of this match, two fast bowlers were ruled out with injury, with Dale Steyn sent home and Lungi Ngidi ruled out for the match. While a replacement was named, he was not allowed to participate in the match. They did well to get as close as they did.
Be sure to check out our World Cup Power Rankings after Week One here.
Five Things We Learned
(1) Injuries matter
Could Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi have pushed South Africa from losing by 6 wickets to winning? Perhaps. It wasn’t that one-sided. India won by 6 wickets, yes, but they took until the 48th over to get the runs. Better bowling could have won it for South Africa. The cruel rules that they were not allowed to bring in replacements hurt South Africa dearly.
(2) South Africa are the unluckiest team
Three injuries in three matches. We were supposed to have Steyn back for this match but instead he is sent home, missing out on the entire tournament. He is 35 years old so won’t play another World Cup. He put in so much effort to get fit, only to injure his shoulder in their only warm-up match, and that’s the end of that. It wasn’t even a big injury. He was only supposed to miss 1 match. And then Hashim Amla, who wasn’t even meant to miss one match. And now Lungi Ngidi. On top of that, they are playing 3 matches before India even played 1. It’s like they are cursed.
(3) India are the privileged team
It reminds me of going to school and having those boys that all of the teachers like. They get onto the student council, get to sit in the teacher’s lounge, they get all of the privileges and have to work the least out of all of the kids, and get a green light to bully the less fortunate kids. That’s kind of like India. They get to wait until the 8th match to play their first game. The first 5 matches should have seen every team play each other once, the next 5 playing the second games, and so forth. India are there playing their first when poor old South Africa are playing their third. All to support the IPL. It’s plainly unfair but we can’t do a thing about it. Other teams had key players in the IPL but they didn’t get to wait, just India. While it didn’t quite guarantee the win, it made it a lot easier.
(4) South Africa are almost out of the competition
At 0-3 they now need to win all 6 of their remaining group matches to qualify. Only twice in 11 World Cups have teams qualified from this position: in 1992 Pakistan were 1-3 with 1 washout from their first 5 matches (they were all out for 78 in the washout and would have lost) but then made it through to the semi-final and ended up winning the tournament. In 1999 Australia were 0-2 and, due to the small groups, had to win every single match, after New Zealand’s qualification meant that Australia carried forward 0 points to the Super 6s, yet, just barely, they made it to the semi-finals and then tied it and then won the final. Those two efforts were massive. South Africa now need to do that to qualify. Their big match will now be against one of the favourites in Australia, though they also have to beat both New Zealand and West Indies, which won’t be easy. They will also have to beat Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan too. If it comes down to South Africa versus Australia and South Africa win, it’d feel like 1999 in reverse. Is it another fairy tale? Or is this just a bad tournament? Their next match is against West Indies.
(5) Rohit Sharma is a bully
He seems to wait until a team is at its lowest and then he bullies them. He’s like that boy on the student council, maybe even the head boy, who does absolutely nothing all year long then when some kid is struggling, he’ll offer to help only to shove his head in the rubbish bin and laugh about it. He scored 122 not out here. The next highest was 34. Without him, India might have lost. Typical Rohit innings. Would have been out for 2 if Steyn and Ngidi were playing.