Proteas captain Faf du Plessis was obviously gutted as he tried to explain another narrow World Cup defeat against New Zealand, a loss that has almost certainly ended their contention for the 2019 semifinals, but he nevertheless praised his team for the fight they showed until the end at Edgbaston on Wednesday.With the batsmen having once again left the bowlers with too much to do, the Proteas attack nevertheless mounted a spirited effort to defend 242 in 49 overs, only to be denied by a magnificent unbeaten century by New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who took his team to victory with just three balls to spare and four wickets in hand.ALSO READ: Ragged Proteas fall prey to a Kiwi expat yet again“Obviously I’m very disappointed and it feels like a few years ago against New Zealand in Auckland all over again, we played another good game and I cannot fault that, we threw everything at it. If I’m being really harsh we were 20 runs short but it was a tough pitch. We tried really hard in the field and that’s all I can ask for, but Kane batted through and made the difference.“We were trying to get 260-270 but we were just a bit under that, but it was runs on the board and we bowled well. I just told the guys to keep in the game and I cannot fault the intensity that they brought. It’s going to be really tough for us now and you can feel the dressing room is hurting. I feel five years older and my body is really sore, we left everything out there,” Du Plessis said.But as admirable as the effort was in the field, it could not make up for another sub-par batting effort from the Proteas, who showed little of the technical skill and composure of Williamson, nor the bravado and simple aggression that Colin de Grandhomme produced in his crucial innings of 60 off 47 balls.“Well-played to Kane, he’s a really good batsman and he showed exactly how to put an innings together, when to push and when to wait, and he targeted certain bowlers really well. Our batting was a bit stop-start, we’d get a partnership going but then lose a wicket and that’s where we lost out on 15-20 extra runs. It was a tough pitch to score on but Kane produced the sort of performance that wins games.“That’s where we are falling short, the batting unit needs to stand up. There have been signs of that but we need more. The finger points back at us as the batting unit. We did well to get through the difficult periods, we were set but New Zealand kept getting wickets just when we had a fifty partnership. New Zealand were just a little better than us today, it was a skill thing, not about hunger nor determination,” Du Plessis said.For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.