South Africa have lost the first two games and in a space of 24 hours, their premier pacer Dale Steyn has been ruled out of World Cup with a shoulder injury while another fast bowler Lungi Ngidi is nursing a Grade 1 hamstring injury.
Captain Faf du Plessis is, however, not losing heart ahead of their crucial game against India. Du Plessis said he is addressing the situation with some strong worded message to the junior players.
“For me, the natural thing that happens in a team is you find that your confidence goes down and naturally younger guys in the team, coming to their first World Cup, they will potentially go into their self-pity cycle. So, for me, it was strong words in the sense that won’t be allowed over the next couple of days,” Du Plessis said on Tuesday.
“It is important for us to stay strong at this time. If you do slightly go away from that, then as a team you can crumble and, unfortunately, we are not in a position where we can afford that,” he added.
For him, controlling the controllable is paramount and he is precisely trying to do that in his bid to ensure six wins out of next seven games.
“We can’t control results. We can’t control the outcome of the game. What we can control is how strong we are mentally. How well we are training. What sort of language are we using in the dressing room. Is it positive?”
Du Plessis knows how things can go downhill after a string of poor performances.
“For me, that was the main focus... Making sure that the guys are still saying the right things in the team, not questioning themselves because then it’s a slippery slope. Then you just keep going further and further backwards.”
Du Plessis knows Wednesday’s game is the biggest of their lives.
“Naturally, what happens is that you have to manage people’s confidence because that’s the thing, especially after the last game. As professional cricketers, we want to do well and win games. That is important that we don’t go take a left turn into negative town (smiling)… Stay positive, stay strong and make sure that we keep pushing.”