ADELAIDE, Australia: Deflated South Africa coach Mark Boucher said his side had only themselves to blame after their Twenty20 World Cup campaign ended on Sunday with a shock defeat to the Netherlands.
The Dutch stunned the Proteas by 13 runs in Adelaide -- a victory that also propelled India into the semi-finals -- in the latest of a series of surprise results at the tournament.
South Africa had been touted as outside favourites to win the competition but they are now heading home after failing to get out of the weaker of the two Super 12 groups.
It extended their wretched record in white-ball World Cups.
"I think if you look at our T20 side, we've got a good team. We believe that on our day, we can beat anyone," said Boucher, for whom it was a hugely disappointing way to end his reign as coach.
"That's why I say it's disappointing to have an exit like this with this particular squad because I do believe we deserve better as a squad.
"We've got ourselves to blame, but I think our T20 side is in a good position."
The 45-year-old Boucher admitted that it was among the worst defeats of his career.
"I think if you look at the way that we started the game, our energies were low," he said.
Chasing 159 for victory after man-of-the-match Colin Ackermann's unbeaten 41, South Africa faltered to end on 145-8, with Dutch fast bowler Brandon Glover returning impressive figures of 3-9 in two overs.
"Hard one to swallow. We had the confidence and belief in ourselves as a unit to make the play-offs," said South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma.
"We lost wickets at crucial times. They used the dimensions of the field a lot better than we did."
South Africa started their reply on a jittery note with openers Quinton de Kock and Bavuma out inside six overs with the score on 39.
The left-handed de Kock hit a four and six but soon fell caught behind to Fred Klaassen, for 13, and Bavuma was bowled by Paul van Meekeren for 20.
But it was Glover's wicket of Rilee Rossouw that raised the Dutch hopes with the batsman, who hit the first century in this tournament, departing after a 19-ball 25.
The Proteas never looked convincing as Klaassen took down Aiden Markram for 17 and a Dutch shock started becoming a reality when Glover struck twice in one over.
He sent back the dangerous David Miller for 17 and then got Wayne Parnell caught behind for nought as the wheels came off the South Africa chase -- and with it their World Cup hopes.
"Our plans were there, but we didn't quite use them well enough," said the departing Boucher.
"The Netherlands outbowled us, they bowled to the longer side of the field and were able to create more pressure than we were able to create pressure on them."
- Dutch delight -
Put in to bat first, the Dutch, who had only beaten Zimbabwe in the Super 12 prior to this, started strongly with Stephan Myburgh's 37 but lost their way. But then stepped in Ackermann.
He smashed three fours and two sixes in his 26-ball knock and along with skipper Scott Edwards helped the team get 31 runs from the final two overs.
"Lost for words," said Edwards after the Dutch pulled off another stunner. "It's definitely up there, another big upset for Netherlands in a World Cup."
Ackermann added: "Feels fantastic, we really deserved this victory.
"Boys worked really hard. Come in, and take it deep, and the boundaries flowed at the end."
England and New Zealand were already into the semi-finals from Group 1. -- AFP