South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has admitted that the Proteas are hurting after suffering a narrow four-wicket defeat to New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
The result has left the team with only the slightest chance of advancing into the semifinals of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup – they would have to win all three of their remaining matches convincingly and hope that results elsewhere, including rain abandonments, fall their way.
"You know, it's tough now," du Plessis said after the loss to New Zealand. "You can feel in the dressing room the guys are hurting.
“I'm feeling five years older. My body is really sore after that. So we left everything out there, and that's all I can ask for as a captain, that the guys fought. They showed that.
"Unfortunately, we've just not been as good as the opposition that we've played against. New Zealand today was a little bit better than us.
“That's a skill thing - 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.”
The Proteas skipper added, “"We batted through a tough time getting partnerships together, then we lose a wicket, then we batted again and got the partnership together - it was a lot of stop-start.
“With that, you lose out on 15, 20 runs, and that's what we were saying in the dressing room the whole time. We were trying to get to 260 or 270. That would be a really good score.
"We did well in parts today. The wicket wasn't as flat as you would have thought it would be. Those first 15 overs felt exactly like Auckland - the ball was hooping around corners there.
“So we felt like we did the hard work, and we thought it would be easy after that, but they kept getting a wicket every time there was a 50 or 60-run partnership.
“You need that to go to 100, and you need one guy to bat through the innings. You need someone to get 100 plus, and that gives you that 15, 20 more runs."