After their unexpected defeat to the Netherlands in a 2023 World Cup match in Dharamsala, South Africa’s captain, Temba Bavuma, openly expressed his distress.

Temba Bavuma’s South African team has now experienced two defeats at the hands of the Netherlands in the span of 11 months, occurring in two separate World Cup tournaments played in distinct formats. The pain of such occurrences is undeniable, and as Bavuma emphasized, “It should hurt.” This statement came after South Africa’s loss to the Netherlands by 38 runs in a 2023 World Cup match at HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. The previous year, in November, the Netherlands had defeated South Africa, resulting in their exit from the T20 World Cup. Less than a year later, this loss, while not as detrimental to South Africa’s tournament prospects, remains a bitter pill to swallow.

Netherlands, typically considered an associate nation in the cricketing world, had only secured previous ODI World Cup victories against Scotland (in 2007) and Namibia (in 2003). South Africa entered the match as the clear favorites, particularly after two dominating wins in the ongoing World Cup. In their last five ODIs, South Africa had scored no less than 311/7, breaching the 400-run mark on two occasions. However, on this particular Tuesday, they failed to chase down 246 runs in a rain-curtailed match spanning 43 overs.

South Africa’s bowlers, who had recently dismissed the formidable Australian team for a mere 177, allowed the Netherlands to accumulate 245 runs, even though they had the Dutch at six wickets down with only 112 runs on the board.

The defeat was a devastating blow to South African fans, evoking painful memories of past World Cup disappointments. However, for Bavuma, the weight of this loss is even heavier, as he now holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only captain to lose to the Netherlands twice in World Cup competitions.

Bavuma, speaking at the post-match presentation, stressed the importance of acknowledging the emotions of the day, stating, “You’ve got to let the emotion kind of seep in. Don’t think there is any point in trying to forget what’s happened. It is going to hurt, it should hurt. But then you come back tomorrow, you wake up and we get back onto the journey. Our campaign is not over by any stretch of the imagination, but you’ve got to feel the emotion of today and come back tomorrow with your head held high.”

While Bavuma remains hopeful for the future, he is unwilling to overlook the events that unfolded in Dharamsala. He expressed dissatisfaction with the number of extras conceded by his bowlers and the lapses in fielding.

“The extras are something you can control. Allowing 32 extras, equivalent to an extra five overs, will always come back to haunt you. We need to address whether it’s a matter of skill or complacency, but in the end, it had a significant impact. Although we were clinical against Australia, the challenge was to reproduce that performance. Our fielding was not up to par today, certainly falling short of the standard we exhibited against Australia.

“These are conversations we need to have. The players need to assess their own mental state during the game. The fielding performance we displayed today was not at the level we aim for. We had the Netherlands at 112 for 6, and at that point, we shouldn’t have allowed them to reach 240-plus,” Bavuma explained.

While Bavuma’s frustration was primarily directed at his bowlers, he acknowledged that, despite fielding lapses, they should have been able to chase down the 246-run target. However, the Netherlands’ effective use of spinners during the powerplay phase left South Africa unsettled. Left-arm spin-bowling all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe and part-time off-spinner Colin Ackermann claimed three wickets during this phase.

“With the bat, we remained confident in our ability to chase the target, but we couldn’t establish substantial partnerships. Their strategy of employing dual spinners during the powerplay was something we failed to adapt to. Credit to them for exploiting certain vulnerabilities in our game,” Bavuma conceded.

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