We're still alive - Robbie P
Robin Peterson produced comfortably the best performance on the day for South Africa with a return of 2-15 in his four overs as South Africa lost by two wickets with just two balls to spare in their opening Super Eight match against Pakistan at the Palekele Stadium in Colombo on Friday.
Having posted a modest 133-6 against a Pakistan attack that delivered 15 overs of spin, Peterson and spin partner Johan Botha helped drag the Proteas back into the game and then to a status as favourites once Pakistan had slumped to 76-7 with just five and half overs to go.
Fast bowler Umar Gul then produced an astonishing assault of 32 from 17 balls which did most of the damage to Jacques Kallis and Albie Morkel who conceded 15 and 20 runs respectively from single overs as South Africa lost control of a game they appeared to be mastering.
”You have to give it to Umar Gul, it’s not everyday someone plays a special innings like that under pressure. He caught us by surprise. A lot of credit has got to go to the way they played at the end,” admitted Peterson after the match.
As for Botha only bowling two of his four overs -- at the miserly cost of just 10 runs -- Peterson said “hindsight was the perfect science.”
“It’s difficult to say. AB made the calls at the time and he thought the bowlers he brought on would make an impact. We just stuck to our game planes tonight. Maybe we need to revisit one or two things and move forward from there.”
Inevitably the questions arose about South Africa’s repeated failures to perform under pressure at ICC events. It is a question none of the current squad has dodged here in Sri Lanka: “It’s probably something that’s plagued us in the past. We are at a different tournament now. We still have another opportunity to get it right and we are doing things a little bit differently behind the scenes so, hopefully, things will go better for us this tournament. We’re obviously disappointed by the result but we’ve got two games to get things right,” Peterson said.
The next game, against Australia on Sunday, is a ‘must-win’ encounter. If they lose there will be a slim, mathematical chance of a semifinal place if they beat India on Tuesday, but to all intents and purposes, they will be lining up against the Aussies with their further participation in the tournament at stake.