Sri Lanka in South Africa 2011-12

de Villiers hopes South Africa find killer instinct

Firdose Moonda in Centurion

December 12, 2011

Comments: 21 | Text size: A | A

AB de Villiers at South Africa's training session, Durban, October 27, 2011
AB de Villiers hopes South Africa can kill off teams when they get the chance © Getty Images
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The stereotype that follows sub-continental teams is that they cannot win away from home and South Africa are fast-building an opposite, but fairly accurate pigeon-hole of their own - they cannot win at home.

The last time they won a home Test series was in 2008, against Bangladesh. Of greater significance, is that the last time South Africa won a Test series at home against a team ranked in the top five, was in 2007 against Pakistan, who were then at No. 3.

The opportunity to break the trend presents itself with the upcoming three-Test series against Sri Lanka, who live up to the miserable typecast and have never won a single Test, nevermind a series, in South Africa. The hosts are looking at the tour as a way to rediscover the ability to close out matches consistently and build towards a Test series win for the first time in 18 months.

Despite being ranked as the second best-side in Test cricket until three weeks ago, South Africa last claimed a Test series win in June 2010, against West Indies. Since then, they have drawn series against Pakistan, India and, most-recently, Australia - a result which saw South Africa drop to third. For the most part, they have played captivating five-day cricket but have unable to secure results and AB de Villiers said that they have figured out why.

"I don't think we've played poor cricket in the last few years but we haven't played the massive and important situations too well," de Villiers said at SuperSport Park. "Like in that last Test match against Australia, we were presented with the opportunity to finish it off and we didn't do that."

After winning an extraordinary first Test at Newlands, South Africa set Australia a tough target of 310 in the second Test in Johannesburg. It required a record fourth-innings chase and Australia stuttered along the way but won by two wickets, a margin small enough for South Africa to feel thoroughly disappointed.

Last season, South Africa were locked one-all with India and drew the third Test to leave the series at a stalemate. The season before that, South Africa drew with England. Each side won one of the four matches in the series but the two drawn matches, in Centurion and Cape Town, could easily have gone South Africa's way. They had England nine down in their second innings on both occasions but could not take the final wicket.

de Villiers acknowledged the limp last punch is becoming a concern. "That's what makes a good team, a great one and we are not doing that at the moment," he said. "That's why England are doing really well at the moment; when they get a sniff they finish it off. We haven't been able to do that for long periods of time."

South Africa will approach the series with the mindset of being in it for the long haul and want to stack up session victories to translate into a match win. The fluctuating shifts in advantage that have become a feature of their Test cricket will even out into a steady flow, in which they dominate passages of play.

"Test cricket is all about momentum," de Villiers said. "When you are going well and you get the opposition on the ropes, it's a matter of finishing it off and being more aggressive. But, when you are down and out, you have to minimise your weakness. It's just a case of knowing when to play, absorb the pressure and when to give it back on the opposition."

Against a Sri Lanka side that is reeling from injury concerns and going through a slump in form, de Villiers believes South Africa will emerge convincing victors if they are able to produce steadier performances. "If we play consistent cricket over a few days, we should get ourselves in a good position to win a Test. And we don't only want to do it for one Test, but for the whole series," he said.

Their home ground advantage is also set to serve South Africa well, although de Villiers said he would prefer fair pitches to green mambas as the series unfolds. "I just want a good cricket wicket. If we get a good cricket wicket and we play good cricket, they won't be able to stop us."

Just before getting too far ahead of himself, de Villiers took a step back and admitted that South Africa have some work to do before they can announce themselves with authority to Sri Lanka. They have not toured the country in nine years and the two teams last played against each other in 2006. de Villiers said the team will spend a significant amount of time over the next two days studying video footage of the Sri Lankans, some of whom they have never seen before.

"I watched them on the telly the other day and I hardly recognised half the team," de Villiers admitted. "But, the most important thing for us is to respect them and play them like they are the number one team in the world at the moment."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by khiladisher on (December 14, 2011, 16:10 GMT)

LOOKS LIKE SL-SA SERIES MIGHT END IN A 1-1 DRAW-SOUTH AFRICAN DREAM OF WINNING A HOME SERIES WILL COMPLETE 4 YEARS IN 2012.IT IS SHOCKING THAT THE BEST BOWLING ATTACK IN THE WORLD IS INCAPABLE OF WINNING A HOME SERIES{ IF KALLIS HAD NOT SCORED A MATCH SAVING HUNDRED INDIA WOULD HAVE WON 2-1.}.

Posted by khiladisher on (December 14, 2011, 16:08 GMT)

@XOLILE- NO WONDER THE SOUTH AFRICANS HAVE NOT WON ANYTHING IN CRICKET SO FAR-WHEN THEY PERFORM POORLY EVEN AT HOME SINCE 2008-WHAT ELSE CAN ANYONE EXPECT.IN SPITE OF HAVING THE BEST BOWLING ATTACK IN THE WORLD-THEY HAVE NOT WON AT HOME SINCE 2008-THEY MIGHT WIN AGAINST SRI LANKA OR PAKISTAN EASILY BUT FACING INDIA -AUSTRALIA AND ENGLAND IS A DIFFERENT ISSUE{THATS THE RAESON WHY SAFFERS HAVE ALWAYS FAILED AGAINST THE TOP TEAMS{LACK OF KILLER INSTINCT}STEYN AND MORKEL WOULD NOT LIKE BOWLING TO SACHIN-DRAVID-PONTING-LAXMAN-SEHWAG-HUSSEY-GAMBHIR-COOK-BELL-TROTT OR PETERSEN.

Posted by jonnybtestmatch on (December 13, 2011, 13:37 GMT)

Sri Lanka have a toothless attack at the moment and I can't see them posing any threats to the SA batting lineup. I think the batsmen can rally around Sanga but if they lose the big guns early it will be a long tour for the visitors.

Posted by BellCurve on (December 13, 2011, 13:28 GMT)

In this period SA played 4 series at home, against Australia (2), England and India. These are the strongest teams in the world. SA played 12 matches, won 4, lost 5 and drew 3. That's certainly not a fantastic record. But considering the strenght of the opposition, it's not an appalling record either. Moreover, SA batsmen averaged 34 in these matches whereas the opposition averaged 28. This underlines my overall conclusion that although SA's W/L record has been disappointing, the opposition has generally been fortunate. But that's Test cricket for you. Looking back I enjoyed every single one of those 12 contests immensely. It's so much better than the flat-track rubbish they serve up you-know-where.

Posted by 1st_april on (December 13, 2011, 12:56 GMT)

@CricketMaan the author didn't mean to target sub-continent sides...thats why he called it a "stereotype" :)

Posted by   on (December 13, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

heshan rajitha we agree india lost in england but they havewon inrecent area drewtest seriesinsouthafrica australia won in 2007 in engilland won in perth srilanka alwyas gets humiliated outside not new tothem

Posted by stormy16 on (December 13, 2011, 11:12 GMT)

I cant get over the SA record at home - that's insane given the talent they have and the attack tailor made for the conditions. What's insane is in the same period I am sure they have beaten both Eng and Aus away and if I am not sure their last tour to India was a draw or win. If I am not mistaken there are few SA batsmana with better records away than home which is also strange. All very strange but this series should pose no real issues for SA.

Posted by CricketMaan on (December 13, 2011, 8:50 GMT)

@Firdose, your comment that subcontinent teams cannot win outside is certainly keeping India in mind and you are bit harsh and i thinik your comment is coz of 4-0 drubbing. India did win their last few away test series in NZ, WI and drew level with SA in 2011 and if go in the past, they even won 1-0 in Eng. Yes India is yet to win a series in SA, Aus and even in SL for many years but its not as you put it down. We at least drew level in SA and SL..Aus is still a distant dream but here is hoping we turn it around this time.

Posted by RichardW on (December 13, 2011, 8:49 GMT)

3 nil South Africa,with at least two centuries for Kallis and 15 wickets for Steyn.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (December 13, 2011, 8:24 GMT)

SA WILL WIN FIRST TEST , SL WILL WIN SECOND AT DURBAN ( DURBAN BLUES FOR SA LOST TO ENG , AUS & IND CONSECUTIVELY THERE) THIRD TEST WILL BE A DRAW & SA WILL AGAIN LEFT THE SERIES WITH 1-1.EVEN THE GREAT GARRY CAN 'T HELP SA PLAYERS TO CHOKING . AND SANGAKARRA WILL TEAR APART STEYN LIKE HE DID TO LEE IN BRISBANE 2007 SCORED 192 AT STRIKE RATE OF 70.

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