Rob Walter, the coach of South Africa, declared himself “proud” of Temba Bavuma on Thursday, even though the injured captain was unable to end the nation’s World Cup curse.
After a valiant attempt to hold Australia to a meek 212 in the semi-final on Thursday at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, the Proteas were defeated by three wickets.
For South Africa, it was their seventh semi-final defeat, following similar heartbreaks in 1992, 1999, 2007, and 2015.
Australia, the five-time winners, advanced to their eighth final and will take against the hosts, India, who are still unbeaten, on Sunday.
Bavuma played the match despite not being 100% fit due to a hamstring injury and was out for a fourth-ball duck.
Bavuma, an opening batsman who missed two games in the World Cup through illness, managed just 145 runs in eight matches with a highest score of 35.
“I just told him how proud I am of him,” Walter said of Bavuma.
“You know he marshalled the troops this evening unbelievably well.
“He was the lead man that got us into this tournament in the first place, I think people forget that so I just wanted to make sure that he was aware of how important he is in this team and how proud I am of his efforts and the way he led throughout the tournament.”
Bavuma has played 38 ODIs for South Africa, scoring 1,512 runs at an average of over 45.
Walter defended the decision to play Bavuma despite not being fully recovered from the injury he picked against Afghanistan last Friday.
“If you looked at him in the field, if you didn’t know that he wasn’t 100%, you wouldn’t have guessed,” said Walter.
“So, in terms of being 100%, I think he was pretty close, to be fair. He went through the entire week, he got better every day. And the only potential red flag might have been if something happened in the field.”