Loss to India in group stage an eye-opener, need to play turning ball well: Maharaj

The loss to India in the World Cup group stage was an eye-opener for South Africa as they hope to rectify their mistakes for a possible battle in the final, according to spinner Keshav Maharaj.

India amassed 326/5 before spin twins Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav shared seven wickets between them to bowl out South Africa for 83 in 27.1 overs.

“I think it was a good trial run. Hopefully they will make more progress in this tournament after the semi-final. We need to identify areas where we can improve,” Maharaj told reporters at the mixed zone on Sunday.

India are already at the top of the pool and South Africa are set to finish in the top three. Both teams can only face each other in the final.

“We’ve played really well over this point here. It’s just a matter of going back to those performances we’ve had, and identifying the areas where we can score against the spin ball.”

The win halted South Africa’s four-match winning streak. “It’s probably a good thing and a blessing in disguise for this team to make sure we’re fixing our glitches. It’s just a good eye opener for us to see,” We played four good games on the bounce, so naturally there is one game that would go wrong, no excuses for today’s performance, but I think it is a good idea and an indication of what we need to do better in this competition, of course building up towards that semi-final.

“It’s about making sure we practice in the next few games going into the semi-final and getting it right sooner rather than later.

“It’s about going back to the drawing board and trusting the processes we’ve done very well in this competition so far,” he said.

Playing in front of a packed Eden crowd of 70,000 was not intimidating, but India definitely had a home advantage, he said.

“I don’t think he was intimidated. You have to take it just as sportsmen. It is something that we are not used to, but there is even more reason to put up and enjoy the opportunity.

“We know it is a hometown advantage, but there is no excuse in terms of soaking up the atmosphere outside.”

Looking at what went wrong for them in the match against India, Maharaj said that they probably took too many “bad balls” and could not execute their plans.

South Africa conceded 26 runs in overs, including 22 in wide areas.

“We hit too many bad balls and gave them too many opportunities to score. And that basically killed the game for a little bit of time.

“Then from the start of batting, we were not able to show the lack of intention out there from the start. There were some soft dismissals, if we are honest in our opinion.

“Jadeja bowled an exceptional spell to tear the game apart. But, you know, you have no excuses. We get paid to play cricket, so we have to find a way through,” he said.

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