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South Africa limp out as Pakistan aim for last four

 

Pointing the way: Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi (right) celebrates with Shadab Khan
Pointing the way: Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi (right) celebrates with Shadab Khan

By Nick Purewal

Skipper Faf Du Plessis has branded South Africa's disastrous World Cup campaign as "embarrassing".

The Proteas slipped to a 49-run loss to Pakistan at Lord's that ended any hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

South Africa's worst-ever World Cup could become even more troublesome, with dead rubbers against Sri Lanka and Australia still to come.

But Du Plessis insisted he will stand up and be counted in a bid to steer his confidence-shot squad to a positive finish in the tournament.

Asked if this represents the lowest moment of his international career, Du Plessis replied: "Yes, definitely.

"I'm a very proud player and captain, and playing for South Africa means a lot to me. The fact the results we're dishing out at the moment, it's really, really tough.

"It's becoming a little bit embarrassing, - we're trying but it's not good enough. Obviously I'm human as well, so it's chipping away at me. But I don't have an opportunity to go anywhere, it's important we all front up to this challenge.

"That's when your players need you the most, so I'll stand up to that challenge."

Du Plessis hit 64 in vain as South Africa mustered just 259 for nine, failing to reach the required 309 for victory.

The 34-year-old skipper might be unable to hold on to the captaincy after the tournament, and head coach Ottis Gibson should depart too given his contract is up for renewal.

Du Plessis is determined for South Africa not to slip away with a whimper, but conceded the string of defeats has damaged confidence.

"It's probably harsh to say that was the worst performance ever but we are frustrated," said Du Plessis, whose side have only beaten Afghanistan so far in the tournament.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur insisted his side are firmly in the running for a semi-final spot, and hit out at recent social media criticism of his players.

"We're very firmly in the World Cup, we win our next three games we'll qualify, we know that," said Arthur, as Pakistan secured just their second win in six matches.

"When we put our three disciplines together, we'll be exceptional.

"We're alive and kicking without a doubt and if we play our best game we can beat anybody.

"The guys were really hurt by reactions last week, by social media, by a lot of people.

"And hopefully we got a proper reaction from them today that can just shut some people up for a little while."

Meanwhile, Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes revealed "we only need five games and we've won the World Cup" as they look to keep their slim hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive against Afghanistan.

Despite amassing their highest one-day international total of 333 for eight last Thursday, Bangladesh were beaten by 48 runs against Australia at Trent Bridge, the Tigers' third defeat of the tournament.

Their prospects of a semi-final place are already hanging in the balance and even winning their final three group stage matches - starting against Afghanistan at the Hampshire Bowl today - may not be enough as they rely on results from elsewhere.

But a bullish Rhodes said: "If you really break it down and we do win these matches coming up, we only need five games and we've won the World Cup. That's one way of looking at it, if you think of them all as knockout games.

"Of course, that is not easy, and the first challenge is Afghanistan. That's why we won't look further than the next game, which is Afghanistan. They're a tough team. They're a tough bunch of cricketers.

"But we're not fearful. We are confident. We've been playing some good cricket, so if we do win game after game after game, who knows?"

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