London, England – South Africa, after just two matches, are flirting with the possibility of being bombed out of the 2019 World Cup in England.
There is obviously still a long way to go and enough time to salvage their campaign, but Sunday’s 21-run loss to Bangladesh at The Oval has not gone down well.
After losing to hosts and favourites England at the same venue on Thursday, the Proteas were expected to bounce back against the Tigers.
What followed, though, was a performance that went wrong from the very beginning after captain Faf du Plessis win the toss and elected to bowl first – a decision that he admits he got wrong.
Lungi Ngidi went down with a hamstring injury, the Proteas bowlers that were on the park were poor for most of the Bangladesh innings with wayward lines and inconsistent lengths and, in their pursuit of 331 for victory, the South African top order all got starts without anyone going on to play a match-winning innings.
It leaves Du Plessis and his men with it all to do if they are to recover and make the semi-finals, and up next is a daunting clash against India in Southampton on Wednesday.
For JP Duminy, who made 45 on Sunday, this is the time for the characters in the South African dressing room to accept responsibility.
“Characters need to step up, particularly if you’re going to win a tournament like the World Cup,” the 35-year-old, who will retire at the end of the World Cup, told media after Sunday’s loss.
“We’re up against it so we’re going to need every individual to be a leader in their own game and understand where they need to improve.
“We can’t mope and hang our lips on the ground … we need to understand how we are going to get better.”
Du Plessis admitted on Sunday that harsh words needed to be had in the days leading up to India, and Duminy agreed that players would have to take ownership of their own shortcomings.
“Honesty has always been one of our pillars,” he said.
“It is about the self-reflection first and looking yourself in the mirror and admitting where you got it wrong. It’s going to be important for us not to point fingers or blame anyone.”
Despite having made their worst ever start to a World Cup and flirting with the possibility of being eliminated from the playoff conversation before any other team, the Proteas have made a point of taking a calm approach into this tournament.
It is a philosophy that will certainly be tested this week, though, especially if things do not go well against India.
“There is a relaxed, calm feeling about it,” Duminy said when describing the squad’s mental approach in 2019.