Herschelle Gibbs made just 17 and 31 in testing run-chases against Australia and Sri Lanka © AFP

After two severe batting collapses against Australia and Sri Lanka, Herschelle Gibbs has urged South Africa's middle-order batsmen to build on the solid starts provided by the top order.

"The guys are firing up front and it would be good for our middle order to fire as well," Gibbs told AFP. "In order to win a tournament like this you need a big team effort and along with that team effort comes individual performances and the guys are good enough to turn it all around in one game. I wouldn't say it's a problem right now. The guys up the order have been setting it up, we just need the middle order to get in there and bat with the same intensity."

Chasing 378 for victory in their final Group A match against Australia, South Africa were on course at 220 for 1 in the 32nd over, but they were eventually dismissed for 294. It got worse in the Super Eights match against Sri Lanka on Wednesday. South Africa needed only five runs off 31 balls with five wickets in hand but Lasith Malinga took four wickets in four balls and it was left to Robin Peterson to edge South Africa home with a wicket to spare.

"We learnt the lesson of not completing the innings with the same intensity with which we started it," Gibbs said. "That's what happens when you drop the intensity, it takes four good balls to turn the game on its head. It was an interesting experience and very, very nice to come away with a win. But it was a big lesson for all the batsmen who batted at the end.

"I don't normally have the stomach for matches like that. I'm normally the first one hiding in the toilets at the back of the change room, not able to watch. But I sat through it this time and witnessed every ball and had a drink very quickly after it was finished. Maybe we just took things for granted and weren't clinical enough at the end of the innings. But the lesson has been learned and the same mistake won't be made again."

South Africa's next match is against Ireland on Tuesday in Guyana and Gibbs said there was no way they would underestimate the Irish challenge. "We know they are a dangerous team and we know you can't take anything for granted," he said. "If you disrespect your opponents you will come short. The games are hotting up now. It's a big time in the tournament and we can't relax."