South Africa v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Kimberley January 21, 2012

I made a few tactical errors - de Villiers


AB de Villiers' bright start as South Africa's limited-overs captain has hit a speed bump and it did so in embarrassing fashion for a man who prides himself on professionalism, athleticism and commitment to the cause.

South Africa put on a barely believable and sometimes-comical fielding display, mixing terrific catches like Alviro Petersen's leap on the boundary to dismiss Kumar Sangakkara with horrible gaffes such as Morne Morkel's drop of Angelo Mathews. "We weren't great in the field today," de Villiers said. "We created a few chances that we didn't take."

Usually energetic and committed in the field, South Africa appeared frantic and pressured as Sri Lanka built confidently during their chase of 300. Dinesh Chandimal and Thisara Perera attacked bad balls and ran well between the wickets, although they had one mix-up that could have had either of them dismissed. de Villiers said being under that sort of pressure had tested his ability to use his bowlers, and he felt he could have done it better.

"I needed to take a few chances because we needed wickets and I thought the bowlers did really well on a good pitch. But I made a few tactical errors and used the wrong bowlers at the wrong time."

The decision to keep the spinners on against a fluent Perera was one such strategic mistake. "I thought the spinner could get us one," he said. "We tried to bounce him but the ball wouldn't come up. It was one of those pitches where it was not very easy to take wickets. We tried slower balls. I tried every single bowler in the team."

Wickets were always going to be hard to come by on a flat pitch, and de Villiers admitted South Africa had actually lost the game with the bat. After a speedy start, they were well placed to score over 300, but had to settle for 299 for 7. They lost four wickets for 47 runs and their lower-middle order was unable to score as freely as de Villiers had against a regrouped Sri Lankan attack that bowled with discipline.

de Villiers accepted full responsibility for South Africa's slowdown towards the end of their innings. "We should have got to 330 but I got out at a very bad stage. We needed a partnership there."

de Villiers was bowled for 96 by a Perera slower ball in the 41st over with South Africa on 250 for 5. Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander are capable of big hitting but were forced to play a more watchful game. South Africa scored only 49 runs off the last 9.1 overs.

"We put the lower order under huge pressure so they couldn't play the game they would normally play," de Villiers said. "But with the ball, they [Parnell and Philander] showed variation and skill, and then we let them down in the field."

Despite the stumble towards the end of the innings, South Africa can take heart from the pressure they created at the start and the return to form of Graeme Smith. With talk over the former captain facing the axe, Smith announced his intention to continue playing the 50-over format of the game brutally. "Hopefully he makes it happen now and maximises this," de Villiers said. "I am expecting more runs from him in Jo'burg."

The final match of the series will be South Africa's last home appearance of the summer before they head to New Zealand and England. de Villiers said they want end this series in as strong a position as possible. "We spoke about ruthlessness before this game but we weren't that ruthless. We'll have to do that better. We wanted a whitewash but we didn't do that. We want to make it 4-1 now."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    Unity Is The Problem Here, Sri Lanka Need A Saladin To Unify Them..

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2012, 21:46 GMT


    You say, '' IS AB even CLOSE TO DHONI??????how the hell do you compare a great player like dhoni with AB?'' AB is averaging 49 in tests with a highest score of 278* and already has more test hundreds than Dhoni will ever have. Doni's 37 is certainly respectable as a a wicket keeper/captain. In ODI's Dhoni has a formidable record. But can you really say that AB might not have a similar average after his played another 73 ODI's? Certainly Dhoni is a legend, as Cricinfo states (about Dhoni), ''There was a time when the very idea of an Indian cricketer rivalling Sachin Tendulkar in the popularity stakes bordered on the preposterous...'' AB is younger than Dhoni and has only taken the captaincy recently. If you really want to proclaim that AB is less of a captain to Dhoni then first you'll have to wait and see how he performs.

  • yasser on January 21, 2012, 20:06 GMT

    @lalindra - comparing AB and dhoni in terms of what? batting? keeping? captaincy? my view, AB is definitely a FAR superior batsman to dhoni, dhoni is the better keeper at the moment. AB needs alot more practice to raise his standards. i suppose not keeping over the last few years has taken it's toll. captaincy - obviously futile to compare at the moment. AB is a debutant while dhoni has led his team to a 2 world cup titles. but players are not picked for their "captaincy". they are picked for batting or bowling. keeping as well but keepers need to bat too. if i had to make 1 team out of the SA and India teams, Dhoni would certainly not make it. AB is clearly the better selection.

    to close, i would in no way declare dhoni "a great". he is nothing close to a great. captaining a team to world cup titles doesnt make you great. it's your batting or bowling supremacy that does. keepers also only become greats if they perform well with the bat also.

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    Obiously AB is better than dhoni... Bcoz I think AB is d best batsmen in d world at d moment

  • Athol on January 21, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    I am South African but I really do wish Sro Lanka well. I have some good Sri Lankan friends and they are all gentlemen. Hope your year gets better for you .

  • johanan on January 21, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    yes..Ab is correct..he sould hv used a seamer instead of spinners at the end.

    iam Anushman, srilanka wattala

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    white wash ...................... its a dream..............

  • Lalindra on January 21, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    After Dinesh Chandimal got out after the Batting Power play in the Latter of the Sri Lankan innings Craig Mathews was on air with Robin Jackman,And Craig Mathews was telling he was very happy how DE viller's is making his field and he's doing a wonderful job,few balls later this man is telling AB is making mistakes and should put the right fielders in the right spot, Now i would like to make a suggestion for his co -partner on air @ that time to check whether Craig has 2 tongues.. And the other day Keppler Wesells was comparing Dhoni to AB ,and he was telling that AB even @ times is better than Dhoni,What a very Rediculous comment !!!! ,some one of the stature of Sangakkara would have been a better choice ,but to compare AB WITH DHONI?? IS AB even CLOSE TO DHONI??????how the hell do you compare a great player like dhoni with AB?

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    Don't wory de villeres bright future ahead of u!! I am a sri lankan but i think i have to accept that u have captained the side well better than ur previous captains !!! All the best!!!

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    An irrelevant and irreverent question: Can India do a Srilanka, in their 4th attempt in the current series, down under?

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