'We were just not good enough' - Smith
Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, offered no excuses after his side crashed out of the World Twenty20 following defeat in a must-win match against Pakistan. Seamer Charl Langeveldt took a career-best 4 for 19 to restrict Pakistan to a moderate total but the powerful South African batting misfired to end up 11 runs short.
"I guess you run out of excuses," Smith said. "We were just not good enough again. It's very, very disappointing."
Only three boundaries were scored in the first ten overs of the chase, putting a lot of pressure on the batsmen who came in during the second half of the innings. AB de Villiers was the top-scorer with 53, but there was little support or big-hitting from the rest.
"Today we got strangled a bit with the bat," Smith said. "We bowled pretty well to restrict Pakistan, but we were tense with the bat and lacked fluency and positivity. AB was the only one who really played. That's been the story of our tournament. We've struggled to get all three disciplines together in one game."
Smith also hinted that South Africa might need to rethink their Twenty20 squad after the under-par performance in the Caribbean. "There is a new selection panel and they must look and make the best decisions for South African cricket - that's what it comes down to," he said. "The team is more important than any individual really and it is about getting the right players involved to be successful - it is up to that selection panel to make those decisions."
South Africa had been knocked out by Pakistan in the previous World Twenty20 as well, but that defeat came after a hugely impressive unbeaten run to the semi-finals. "Going into that tournament last year we had played a lot together as a team, we were coming off one of our most successful seasons," Smith said. "The confidence in the group was good, players were playing well, everyone knew their role really and here we have come out of eight weeks of not being together and haven't really gelled in terms of performing our roles and the confidence doesn't seem to be there."
The early exit follows the first-round elimination in the ICC Champions Trophy at home last year. "You always say you've got to learn your lessons. You have to say, with the talent in South Africa, it's not good enough to perform at this level."
Gerald Majola, the president of the South African board, also expressed his disappointment at the poor display from a team which was highly rated coming into the tournament. "The hardest pill to swallow now is that the squad was not marginally beaten on any of the finish lines, but faltered well short of their targets in the early stages," Majola said. "We now await an explanation for this from the team and management."
The Pakistan camp was much happier after the victory set them up for a semi-final spot. The star with the bat was the promising youngster, Umar Akmal, who smashed a counter-attacking half-century after Pakistan got off to a horror start. He had support in the form of quick cameos from brother Kamran and captain Shahid Afridi.
"The boys performed really well," Afridi said. "In the beginning it was not a good start, but then Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal and myself, those partnerships were good and 140-150 is a good total on this track."
After the match Afridi started praying for an England win in the second game of the day. It worked and Pakistan went through to the top four.