South Africa v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Paarl January 12, 2012

'Was attack, from beginning to end' - de Villiers

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South African eyes had to be rubbed and blinked, skins had to be pinched and photographs had to be taken to make sure it was real. 21 for 9 is not something you see on a scoreboard every day. Or any day, except November 10, 2011.

It has been two months and a day since those figures appeared on the scoreboard and already an arguably more incredulous feat has been achieved. When Sri Lanka teetered on 13 for 6, 24 for 7 and even 33 for 8, they were at risk of being bowled out for the lowest total in ODI history.

It would have been an ironic twist if they were, because they have inflicted the three current lowest totals on their opposition. Zimbabwe, who were skittled for 35 in 2003-04, have the lowest total, Canada, who managed 36 right here in Paarl in 2002-03 have the second lowest and Zimbabwe feature again, this time with 38. Sri Lanka now find themselves next on the list with their 43, a feat that will have them hanging their heads in shame.

AB de Villiers had a teasing glint in his eye when he was asked about seeing those numbers appear in lights but tempered his response when describing what it felt like looking at them. "It was good, the plans came together," he said. "I asked the boys to come in with the new ball and to strike. They really ran in as a force and it worked out well."

South Africa had not seen the Paarl pitch before they arrived to play the match, having chosen to train in Cape Town the day before. In scorching heat, they quickly worked out that an already dry, flat surface would need more than just an ordinary effort.

"We knew that we'd have to run in and hit the deck hard," de Villiers said. "That's the key on these kinds of tracks, then you can get out of it what you want. We did have a bit of seam movement, which we didn't expect, but we also saw Dale not clocking in below 140 kph. It was aggressive and we had intent all the time."

Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe put Sri Lanka out of the match faster than a rush of cold air does a candle and they did so using basic principles of bounce and seam. Morkel raced to career-best figures, a welcome turn-around from his sketchy summer form that has seen question marks arise around his role in the team.

"I started off slowly this season but I knew in the back of my mind that a special performance was around the corner," Morkel said. "[It came on] On AB's debut [as full-time one-day captain] and he a close friend of mine, so it was a special feeling to be able to do it now. We had simple plans that we wanted to execute and I think we did that well."

Morkel was not the only member in the team who was motivated to give that little bit extra for the new captain. Centurion Hashim Amla also had a welcoming gift for de Villiers, with the ninth hundred of his career. "He [Amla] is a rock," de Villiers said. "We made a joke before we started, when he came to me and said congratulations on the captaincy. I said to him, 'You will make a lot easier if you score a hundred'. Obviously he took that to heart."

With a squad that is firing with bat and ball, de Villiers' introduction to leadership was as smooth as they come. Instead of relishing that, he admitted to being a little let-down - he had expected more of a challenge. "It wasn't the test I was hoping for, I wasn't tested at all," he said. "It was all attack, from the beginning to the end. My real test will come when we under pressure. Tonight was really easy, but I know it will get a lot harder."

De Villiers could easily get lost in the euphoria of a crushing win, but he is making a conscious effort to keep his feet on the ground and make sure the rest of his squad does so as well. "I have played this game long enough to know that this is not the time to get excited," he said. "We've got another ODI coming up soon and we have a lot of work to do."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JChandi on January 13, 2012, 22:52 GMT

    What is the big deal!!..Australia bowled out for 47 by SA in a test match just before the SL series, how pathetic was that? did anyone talked about this much?? IT was a bad day for SL and De Villiers did his job well with the support of his bowles, his plan worked very well like SL's plan worked in 1996 WC, could anyone stop them in that WC? no, Sanath and Kalu even end few bowlers carrier so be aware as Amla says.."Sri Lanka will come back firing - as they did in the Test matches. They are a proud team with a lot of heritage" ..........don't forget "SL are a proud team with a lot of heritage"

  • AllroundCricketFan on January 13, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    Well done to the batters and bowlers of SA. What a hiding for sri lanka

  • dummy4fb on January 13, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    I think Srilankan problem is mostly due to poor captaincy. Dilshan looked totally lost and out of sort. His own batting for this tour is really poor. He needs to lead from the front and pull rest of the time. I have seen him continuously failing with bat in all matches. Maybe it is time to replace the incompetent captain and allow some one to lead the team with courage and determination

  • dummy4fb on January 12, 2012, 20:14 GMT

    dont bost south africa, in future same day will come to, Iam waiting for the day, it is not far, very close,

  • RoshanF on January 12, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    Agree with LeoE, that Dilshan and the selectors and the board should be blamed not only for this humiliation but also home defeat to Australia and a poor performance in the UAE against Pakistan. For a side to collapse like that two major factors should complement each other. Brilliant bowling and extremely poor batting. And that was what happened at Paarl. SA bowlers were not quite Roberts, Holding, Marshall and Garner to have collapsed like that. Put it down to poor faith in the captain, in the system back home and politics that is all pervasive in SL. Even in the last test, shocking though the SL performance was when batting, it was the unbelievably stupid decision by Dilshan to send in the Proteas having won the toss that cost SL dearly. He totally ignored the fact that the 2nd test had been won by putting the runs on the board and piling on the pressure on SA. BUT in spite of all that there is simply no excuse for SL s two 'stalwarts' namely Mahela and Sanga for their lousy shots.

  • stormy16 on January 12, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    Great start for AB and was good to see no apparent impact on his batting which is most important. How much were SA able to extract from that wicket - the same wicket that SL didnt get a hint of movement or bounce! SA were lethal and simply blew SL away. it was a hit the deck wicket whcih SA did and got plenty in return. I thought the bouncing of Malinga was ugly and uncalled for. SL were down and out and to see the number one bowler continually bouncing a tailender at 140+ was just plain ugly. Its playing the man and not the ball, its arrogance and its the kind of thing that can bite you when the pressure is on in a knock out game. I have only ever seen Aus able to get off with this kind of arrogance, others have tried and failed - SA should know better than most!! It pays to be humble - it build no pressure.

  • dummy4fb on January 12, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    welldone south africa jst do ol 5match series done clinc sweep .....best of luck 4 others matches .......

  • shovwar on January 12, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    @Shaannnnn.....Bro if u had followed SA"s games recently U wuda known what exactly they mean by 21 for 9.....2 months ago SA did this to Australia....yes 21 for 9...the same Australia are playing so good now. SA are hitting their stride slowly but not consistently. But they are showing what can happen maybe in a few months when they start getting things together...Maybe a new era of Fast bowling.....England are having a great run and consistent but SA have the X factor to surprise England....I cant wait to see how England does in UAE....Hope India starts to get their feet together against the OZs....the cricket is gettin better already this year....

  • Fast_Track_Bully on January 12, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    Congrats to SL for making history. Keep it up. this is another way to show ur name in the stats...lol

  • WeeBee on January 12, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    hmm! .. Awesome Performance from S.A. I really want SRILANKA to make a come back and make this series an interesting one.

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