Southampton: Legendry all-rounder Jacques Kallis has called India ‘real contenders’ for the World Cup title after they outclassed South Africa but urged his struggling country to not throw in the towel yet.
In overcast conditions, a Jasprit Bumrah-inspired India broke the back of South Africa’s top order before Yuzvendra Chahal ran through the innings with four wickets at the Rose Bowl, Wednesday.
Without much difficulty, Rohit Sharma powered India to victory with six wickets in hand. This was the Proteas’ third straight loss in the showpiece.
“Away from South Africa I thought India looked world-class and real contenders. They’ve obviously been waiting for their first game and I didn’t know how that would work for them, whether they’d be fresh or they’d be some nerves. I think we got the answer, they were very impressive,” Kallis said in his column for the ICC.
Before the disappointing result against India, South Africa crashed to a stunning defeat at the hands of Bangladesh, days after a loss to hosts England in the tournament opener.
Kallis, one of the game’s greatest all-rounders, admitted that the South Africans have put themselves in a precarious situation.
“South Africa have made this spectacularly hard on themselves – they’ve six league matches left and every one of them is effectively a knockout game now,” he said.
“They can have absolutely no complaints with the result against India, they were totally outclassed in every department, with the bat, ball and in the field. They really didn’t win much after the toss I’m afraid,” said Kallis. “That dressing room will be a tough place to be, but they have to all take responsibility and work hard to correct the errors they are making.”
Unlike in the previous editions since their re-entry into international cricket, South Africa did not enter the tournament as one of the favourites.
“… I’d tell them it can also go the other way, beat the West Indies and Afghanistan in their next two games and suddenly the table won’t look so bad and they’ll have some momentum back for what could be a huge game against New Zealand,” he added.
“This is a big moment for Faf du Plessis but not everything can be put on the captain’s shoulders. Each individual needs to look in the mirror, there cannot be any finger pointing, they have to have an honest conversation with each other about what they can do better,” Kallis said.
The former great called the defeat to Bangladesh cause for real concern.
“Before they talk about the team, they need to think hard about themselves. It’s a collective effort, from senior players to the new guys. And they have to be positive, they need to feed off each other’s energy more than ever,” Kallis said.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise we lost to England and India, they are the two best teams in the world right now. The really worrying thing is that defeat by Bangladesh,” he said. “They’ve got the West Indies next and they proved against Pakistan how talented they are.”
“It’s a tough game but we know how to beat them. You have to get on top of them early and strangle the game, you can’t be letting them play with that freedom,” he added.