South Africa v Sri Lanka, World Cup 2015, 1st quarter-final, Sydney March 18, 2015

We're not going to show any weakness - de Villiers

South Africa captain AB de Villiers has said his side had prepared for a show of strength against Sri Lanka in their quarter-final in Sydney, which they won comprehensively by nine wickets. He emphasised on the belief the players had in each other and the confidence they were carrying into the game.

"We committed to the fact that we're not going to show any weakness," de Villiers said. "In knockout games things don't always go your way. But we know that in any game actually. You can't dominate cricket games for 100 overs. It never happens. You've got to take a couple of shots on the chin and the way you take it is really important, not to show any weakness to the opposition.

"I think everyone committed to that really well, and just the belief, and to know that the guy next to you will go to war with you. I think we felt that walking onto the field today, and when we sang the anthem we felt really proud, could feel the way the boys shook each other's hands that we were ready to play some really good cricket. I think little things play a big role in you getting ready for big games like this, just really believing in each other."

De Villiers praised Morne Morkel for taking ownership of the bowling department along with Dale Steyn. Morkel is South Africa's second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 14 wickets, one short of Imran Tahir's tally. His economy rate of 4.05 is also the lowest for any South African who has played more than three games this World Cup. On Wednesday, when de Villiers handed him the ball for a fresh spell in the batting Powerplay, he dismissed Kumar Sangakkara with his second delivery to quell any late resistance.

"The fact that he was part of the Kolkata [Knight Riders] team winning that [IPL] trophy not long ago played a big part in his personal career," de Villiers said. "You could just see a lot of belief in his eyes. He talks with confidence, a lot of confidence, and he's taken up a lot of responsibility in the bowling unit. It's not only Dale as the leader, it's him, as well. He's definitely one of our leaders and our captains in the bowling unit.

"He's bolstered up his performance, but it's not just about that. He walks the talk. He's very confident, and I don't think you've always seen that in his career. So the fact that he's lifted a trophy I think with Calcutta in the IPL maybe played a big part in him really believing that he actually can play a big role in teams winning Cups. He's playing a huge role in the bowling team believing that they can run through sides."

A major worry for South Africa coming into this game was Quinton de Kock's prolonged poor run of scores: he had aggregated 53 runs from six innings before the quarter-final. With South Africa requiring only 134, de Kock, by smashing an unbeaten 78 off 57 balls, ensured that most of his team-mates weren't required to exert themselves with the bat. Earlier in the day, he had also taken a stunning one-handed catch diving to his left to send back Kusal Perera.

De Villiers credited the selectors for persisting with de Kock despite the obvious temptation to drop him. "We all go through patches like he did in this tournament," he said. "We've all been in dark spaces, and I think he has been in this tournament. A lot of credit to the selectors, to the coach, the guys who kept backing him.

"I think they must have been tempted a few times to let him go and maybe for me to take the gloves, but it was a great call from them to stick with him. He had a fantastic game, took a couple of crucial catches. You know what can happen when you let catches go down. It can turn a game upside down, and he hung onto them today, and the way he batted with confidence was amazing.

"At that age to go through a patch like he has been going through, to come out there in quarter-finals of the World Cup with confidence shows what kind of player he is and what he can achieve in his career, and I'm looking forward to the next few games to see him up the order again."

De Villiers was mindful, however, that the backslapping could wait, as South Africa still had some distance to cover in the competition. He acknowledged they had won only the first knockout game of the tournament and there were more hurdles to go.

"I think we liked being called chokers, so we'll just keep that tag and move along as long and keep winning.

"It's a great achievement from a team that, like I said before, we came here to win the World Cup. Our next hurdle is the semi-finals and we'll try to find a way to get over that hurdle. Look, we still have hopefully two games to go. We haven't won the World Cup yet.

"A big part of sport is about confidence and the way you believe in your ability, and I truly believe that we feel really strong as a unit and confident going into the semi-finals. In the other side, or in other breath, it means absolutely nothing. You're going to have to start over again, and the hard work starts now.

"Look, we didn't come all this way to say that we made it to a semi-finals of a World Cup. We want to go all the way as a team, and we believe we have the right group here to achieve that.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2015, 7:50 GMT

    NZ may be in fine form, but they need to be careful of over confidence. WI cricket can and have stood up on past occasions. That win of theirs in the Champions Trophy against England a while back says it all! I do not think that they will just lie down and want NZ to walk over them. NZ could want it more, but that could lead to their downfall, as this will aplly more pressure on them to win. SA truly have the bigger challenge ahead! We and other teams have been travelling to and from countries to play games. I feel this to be a little unfair! Why couldnt NZ travel at least once and go and play in AUS like AUS had to do! NZ, if they go through to they final might just crack at the MCG due to not having played in AUS the entire tournament.

  • Niren on March 19, 2015, 5:52 GMT

    AB was a SA schools rugby player, SA schools hockey player, also scratch golfer....and best batsman in world ....AB IS THE NEW CHUCK NORRIS

  • abhijeet on March 19, 2015, 3:03 GMT

    I think NZ will hold the key against SA...in the semis........bcoz the match will be in eden parks....Auckland....where nz has been suberb........home advantage will certainly help nz a lot.........but B MAC vs ABD.....will be a thriller....that's for sure..

  • Ruturaj on March 18, 2015, 19:54 GMT

    The biggest dilemma for me in this World Cup would be during the first semi-final, wherein SA will almost certainly play NZ (let's face it, it is too much of a hope to expect WI to win against NZ). Both these teams have excellent players who are real nice guys as well. It is hard to say whose bowling is better out of NZ and SA. It is also hard to say which reluctant wicket-keeper captain's batting is more aggressive and eye-catching, and which team is better in fielding. I expect that the contest will be a close one. However, I believe both NZ and SA are equally deserving of their first World Cup title. I had hoped that these 2 teams would play in the final. So it would be a real heartbreak to see one of the teams lose in the semis. On the brighter side, either SA or NZ are guaranteed to make their first appearance in a World Cup final, which would be a nice change from seeing the same old teams in WC finals for the last 2 decades.

  • diren on March 18, 2015, 18:04 GMT

    What an occasion. The giant has opened his eyes. SA finally win a knock out game. I said it before and I will say it again if SA were to win 1 knock out game they will become un stoppable. Now they know what it feels like, they have the confidence. SA will destroy all teams that come before them now. A new era of domination has begun. A South African domination. Wait and see!!!

  • Denis on March 18, 2015, 17:15 GMT

    I have been critical of AB as a captain, but he sure shone in this match. Now he just needs to bat through and make sure he's there at the end of the NZ game. Well done, AB.

  • G on March 18, 2015, 17:10 GMT

    Congrats SA! It is fitting that the hoodoo has finally been broken in the same place it had started, Sydney. I don't believe much in hoodoos but put SA cricket and hoodoo in the same sentence, it makes sense. As a teenager watching in India, I felt for them in 1992. Beaten by rain in 1992, beaten by only 1 man that could've beaten them in 1996, beaten by a brain freeze in 1999, beaten by a collective brain freeze in 2003 at home, beaten by fears of choking in 2007, beaten by choking in 2011 and finally coming up trumps in Sydney 2015. I've seen them all. As a grown up man in 2015, I'm happy for them.

    For all the reference to their choking, I believe they did so only once in 2011. We all talk about momentum, peaking at the right time etc. I'd like to know how many teams have 23 years of momentum in them? That juggernaut is going to be difficult to stop. That SA wicketkeeper in 1992 will finally be smiling in Sydney after 23 long years!

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