South Africa coach Rob Walter says he is “proud” of captain Temba Bavuma despite being injured during South Africa’s Cricket World Cup semi-final defeat to Australia.
After a valiant attempt to hold Australia to a meek 212 in the semi-final on Thursday at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, the Proteas were defeated by three wickets.
For South Africa, it was their fifth semi-final defeat, following similar heartbreaks in 1992, 1999, 2007, and 2015.
Australia, the five-time winners, advanced to their eighth final and will take on the hosts, India, who are still unbeaten, on Sunday.
Bavuma was out for a fourth-ball duck and did not play the entire match because of a hamstring injury.
Bavuma, who batted first and missed two World Cup matches due to illness, scored 35 runs at his highest in eight matches, but he only made 145 runs overall.
“I just told him how proud I am of him,” Walter said of Bavuma.
“You know he marshalled the troops this evening unbelievably well.
“He was the lead man that got us into this tournament in the first place, I think people forget that so I just wanted to make sure that he was aware of how important he is in this team and how proud I am of his efforts and the way he led throughout the tournament.”
With an average of more than 45, Bavuma has amassed 1,512 runs in 38 One-Day Internationals for South Africa.
Despite not being fully recovered from the injury he sustained against Afghanistan last Friday, Walter defended the choice to play for Bavuma.
“If you looked at him in the field, if you didn’t know that he wasn’t 100%, you wouldn’t have guessed,” said Walter.
“So, in terms of being 100%, I think he was pretty close, to be fair. He went through the entire week, he got better every day. And the only potential red flag might have been if something happened in the field.”
After batting first, South Africa was reduced to 24-4 in 11.5 overs, but David Miller’s heroic 101 gave Australia a 213-run target on a challenging wicket.
“The first 12 overs of batting this afternoon was a serious challenge. And ultimately, I think that’s what separated the game really,” said Walter.
Quinton de Kock continued to be the team’s best batsman in the tournament with 594 runs, including four hundreds, second only to Virat Kohli of India (711).
On his final ODI for South Africa on Thursday, though, the 30-year-old De Kock was out for just three runs.
“Thank goodness I don’t have to be Quinny’s father figure anymore. That’s a bonus,” Walter joked.
Gerald Coetzee, a fast bowler, emerged as South Africa’s breakthrough player, taking 20 wickets overall, including two on Thursday.
“Personally, I’m excited,” said Walter as he surveyed his team’s younger players such as Coetzee and Marco Jansen.
“I think there’s a huge scope for us to grow as a team. I think there’s a huge scope for us to play even better than we have. And the majority of the people that are going to be on their journey are still in that changing room.”
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