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South Africa focused despite De Villiers offer to come out of retirement - Du Plessis

South Africa focused despite De Villiers offer to come out of retirement - Du Plessis
© Reuters
South Africa's chances of qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals are slim after taking just one point from their opening four matches.

Faf Du Plessis hopes the storm around AB De Villiers' offer to come out of retirement can give South Africa the "direction" to revive their ailing World Cup.

Skipper Du Plessis insisted De Villiers' 11th-hour bid for World Cup selection was rejected out of hand by Proteas bosses.

South Africa were handed a World Cup lifeline when their clash with the West Indies was washed out in Southampton.

South Africa v West Indies – ICC Cricket World Cup – Group Stage – Hampshire Bowl
South Africa's match with the West Indies had to be abandoned due to bad weather. (Adam Davy/PA)

Their first point after an unprecedented three straight defeats leaves Du Plessis and company arguably needing five wins from their remaining five matches to stand any chance of reaching the semi-finals.

"We do feel like the news came in camp and just went through the team. It didn't have a big impact," said Du Plessis, of the revelations De Villiers had offered to join the World Cup group.

"There was a discussion on clarity and making sure everyone knows what's going on.

"But stuff like that can give you direction and purpose, to focus on what lies ahead.

"AB didn't come to me, it was a phone call the night before the team got announced. It was just a 'This is what I'm feeling'.

South Africa v India – ICC Cricket World Cup – Group Stage – Hampshire Bowl
Du Plessis felt it was too late to change the team following AB De Villiers suggestion to come out of retirement . (Adam Davy/PA).

"I said 'I think it's too late but I'll check in with the coaches and selectors'.

"The squad was already picked. I spoke to the coach and selectors the next day, and we all agreed it was too late to change the team."

Defeat to the West Indies would have left South Africa with almost no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.

But the point gained by default thanks to unrelenting rain now hands coach Ottis Gibson's men a slim chance of reaching the last four, with their final five games against Afghanistan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia.

Another washout would likely scupper their hopes.

With the Proteas still staring down the barrel of their worst World Cup performance, Du Plessis said: "We're in this position because we haven't played our best cricket.

"We don't deserve to be anywhere close to the top of the log. So we have to play our best.

"We need to start playing better cricket, more consistent, more solid cricket. If we start doing that we'll gain a lot more confidence for the latter stages.

"We need individuals to stand up and step up morale."

Du Plessis insisted South Africa boast strong camaraderie even in the wake of their shortcomings on the field.

"I do honestly feel as a team, the feeling in the camp is still very strong," said Du Plessis.

"The guys are still enjoying being on tour, the guys are having fun, we just haven't put in the performances we need.

"A couple of bad results and cracks can start to appear but that honestly hasn't happened to us.

"In that situation the blame game can start but I do honesty believe we've been very far away from that.

"So that's a testament to our culture. But you get culture, and then performances.

"So it's the performances and the skill side of cricket that needs to take over."

Sheldon Cottrell had bagged two quick wickets to leave South Africa on the ropes at 29 for two when rain halted proceedings at the Hampshire Bowl.

West Indies coach Floyd Reifer refused to lament a victory opportunity lost, instead insisting his side will continue their aggressive approach.

England will face Chris Gayle and company in Southampton on Friday, with Reifer hoping to have Andre Russell fit for action.

"It's unfortunate, you can't do anything about the weather," said Reifer.

Australia v West Indies – ICC Cricket World Cup – Group Stage – Trent Bridge
West Indies' Andre Russell should be fit to face England on Friday. (Simon Cooper/PA)

"In terms of the point, we'll take it. We'll just keep playing our fearless cricket.

"'Dre will be fit enough for the game on Friday.

"The game against England is a big game for us, and we're looking forward to that game.

"So it was just a precautionary measure today, wrapping him in cotton wool."

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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