South Africa captain Faf du Plessis on June 19, 2019 in Birmingham, England. Picture: STU FOSTER - IDI / GETTY IMAGES
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis on June 19, 2019 in Birmingham, England. Picture: STU FOSTER - IDI / GETTY IMAGES

Birmingham — New Zealand’s four-wicket win over SA in their World Cup match at Edgbaston on Wednesday took a high toll on Faf du Plessis and his team.

“It’s tough‚ you can feel in the dressing room the guys are hurting‚” Du Plessis said after the match‚ which all but took SA out of the mix for a place in the semifinals.

“I’m feeling five years older. My body is really sore after that. We left everything out there‚ and that’s all I can ask for as a captain — that the guys fought. They showed that.”

But that was not enough to stop the New Zealanders from inflicting SA’s fourth loss in six games at a tournament in which they have won only once.

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“Unfortunately‚ we’ve just not been as good as the opposition that we’ve played against‚” Du Plessis said. “New Zealand today were a bit better than us. That’s a skill thing. That’s not a hunger thing. That’s not a determination thing. That’s not a fight thing. So I can’t fault the team for that.”

SA now face the unedifying prospect of having to play Pakistan‚ Sri Lanka and Australia despite having little genuine chance of advancing to the knockout rounds. They will need to win all of those games and hope for other results to go their way to sneak into the final four.

By the look of them towards the end of Wednesday’s game‚ when heads dropped‚ shoulders slumped and errors mounted‚ they will be in no shape to compete with the tournament’s better teams.

New Zealand put SA out of the 2011 World Cup at the quarterfinal stage and beat them in the semifinals in 2015. It seems they have done so again.

“It almost feels like four years ago against New Zealand‚ where we actually played a good game of cricket‚” Du Plessis said. “I can’t fault the game that we played today. We threw everything at New Zealand.

“We were possibly 20 runs short‚ but it was a tough wicket. In the field and with the ball the guys tried for 50 overs‚ and that’s all I can ask for. There was a great intensity. Kane played a great knock‚ you know. It’s probably the difference between the two sides‚ just one guy taking it through.”

Kane Williamson‚ the Kiwi captain‚ led from the front with an undefeated 106 and featured in all three of his team’s half-century partnerships.

Williamson was 76 not out when he played at but appeared to miss Imran Tahir’s last delivery of the match. Quinton de Kock took the ball cleanly but the South Africans did not appeal — and technology showed Williamson had edged a catch into De Kock’s gloves.

“I was at long-on at the time‚ and ‘Quinny’ is the closest to the action; he’s always my go-to-man‚” Du Plessis said. “I thought it was a plain miss. I just heard about it now at the post-match [presentation] that he said he had a nick on it. But even Kane said he didn’t know he had a ‘fainty’ on it.”

SA  will try to pick up the pieces against Pakistan at Lord’s on Sunday‚ and Du Plessis urged his side’s supporters not to give up hope.

“The guys are fighting; that’s all I can say. I know South African people are very passionate‚ and they’re obviously probably a little angry at the moment‚ and rightly so. As a team‚ we take that on the chin. We’re not pointing fingers anywhere else.”