Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st ODI, Colombo July 21, 2013

'We let the heat get to us' - de Villiers


AB de Villiers said that the inability of South Africa's bowlers to deal with Colombo's sapping heat played a major role in the 180-run loss on Saturday, after the attack conceded 320 for 5. South Africa prevented Sri Lanka from achieving a quick start after electing to field first, but were woeful at the death, conceding 137 in the last 12 overs.

Sri Lanka's total was propelled by a 134-ball 169 from Kumar Sangakkara, who built steadily alongside Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene before embarking on a manic pace in Lahiru Thirimanne's company. He hit 103 in his last 46 deliveries, and was bowled by Ryan McLaren in the 46th over, only for the delivery to be called a no-ball because too many fielders had been stationed on the fence.

"I don't think we started badly," de Villiers said. "Going at four or five runs an over was a good effort on that wicket. There's a lot of heat out there and I think the bowlers took a lot of strain. We let it get to us. I tried to keep their spells nice and short, which we managed to do. Unfortunately we lost a bit of momentum when Sanga and Jayawardene got that partnership going. There was another partnership after that and then the no-ball and the wickets - things didn't go our way there."

South Africa continued to bowl short throughout the innings, with little reward on a slow surface, but de Villiers said it was not the bowling strategy, but the attack's indiscipline that spurred their downfall. Pinpoint yorkers were scarce in the latter overs of Sri Lanka's innings, with both Sangakkara and Thisara Perera succeeding in hitting over the top in the final flourish.

"I think execution was the problem at the death, when the bowlers were tired. The fields were set and the balls kept flying, and then you add Sanga's class to that. He manipulated the fields really well. Once you brought the fine leg up, he'd play the lap shot and if we had limited men on the off side he'd manipulate there. I don't think our plans were bad."

South Africa's chase was effectively scuttled by the 17th over, as the visitors continued to lose quick wickets in pursuit of quick runs. They succumbed for 140 in the 32nd over, but were missing three top batsmen, with Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith not with the squad and Hashim Amla sitting out the match with a neck injury.

"We lost wickets early on, which was a problem," de Villiers said. "I thought they executed their skills well. We tried too many big shots and tried going for boundaries instead of working it around and getting into the game. We didn't have a pattern of play with the bat in hand. There were no partnerships and we kept losing wickets at the wrong time."

"We definitely missed Hash [Hasim Amla] today. He's a world-class player and the number one batter in the world. We'd have liked more stability up front. Without him, our order looks a little light but there are still no excuses to be four or five down with 60 or 70 runs on the board."

De Villiers also defended his decision to bowl first, with his team then having to chase under lights. The Premadasa surface has in the past become noticeably slower in the second innings of an ODI, but de Villiers suggested that conditions remained good for batting throughout the match, despite his side's collapse.

"We looked at the past statistics and eight out of the last ten games had been won by the team chasing. Also, when I looked at the wicket this afternoon, I realised it wasn't going to change much over 100 overs. At night, with maybe a bit of dew and having cool conditions to bat in, I thought it was a very nice chance for us to chase. But 320 was a bit much and we were under pressure."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    Now come on ABD. You are not from the Arctic are you. SA temperatures can become unbearable. You are one of the worlds best batsman and you are a treat to watch when you bat. Captaincy has not done you any favors as what so ever. You clearly have shown that you cannot handle the burden of captaincy. It is for SA selectors to release you of that burden. Sri Lankan cricketers can play like they did when they play proper except when they play Indians. Australia, WI, SL and most other countries are feeling the aftermath of the money making short form of cricket.

  • Lalith on July 22, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    I think SL scored 220 and heat 100 runs. He does not like to give the credit to SL. Accept the truth. Your bowlers were not up to the task. How many wides were bowled. Give the credit to SL or accept that your bowlers were rubbish and batters were horrible.

  • Randika on July 22, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    Although humidity was pretty high, the temperature hovered around 33 at during the day and it could get worse than that in the center in most parts of the world. SA are clearly a better team than this, AB should not be giving excuses. Expect them to bounce back and make this series a keenly contested one in future games though! Good luck to SL and to SA

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2013, 6:21 GMT

    AB you might be the best batsman of the world but your captaincy skills is not even closer to it.Really man you took some really pathetic decisions.When your bowlers came into the rhythm and took 2 wickets upfront then why didn't you gave them another 2 or 3 overs to put pressure on them instead of bringing mclaren and phangiso. And what the hell this phangiso is doing in the team if you already have peterson as a left arm bowler.Since the srilankan team has bunch of left hand batsmen in their team. We really need a authentic off spinner like Botha. Please CSA bring botha back into the team and also make him the captain because he's a thinking captain which he had shown in the past when SA went to the AUS in 2009.If this is your dream team of 2015 world cup then i am quite sure this time you'll be out of the tournament in the first round.C'mon look at your fielding, It was like watching a school team playing on the field,even they can field better than you. All the players really sucks

  • Swami on July 22, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    SA one day team seems forever in an experiment mode. There is no settled feeling with a revolving door of players in and out. If they are not serious about fielding their best players for the national ODI team, people will lose interest in following their games.

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    Being a world class player himself, ABD should know when a team outplays your own team in all aspects of the game. It would have been the right thing to accept defeat gracefully and give credit to the team that beat him.

  • Sathesh Krishnan on July 21, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    This is not acceptable Mr.AB. SA Fans across the world expected a better show from Proteas. Batsmen are not collectively performing for the last 2 years. Was there something done for that at all? Everyone is capable but none are executing when required. This is sad state of SA cricket and thats why the inconsistency. There is not even a single game in recent times where 3 or 4 batsmen put up a 50+ score in the same game. This shows the utter batting failure in SA ODI team. Amla, AB, Faf and JP are considered the senior players in this team and atleast two of them should deliver all the time. Then only it gives confidence for youngsters like Ingram, Miller, DeKock etc. But there is no worthy contribution from Faf or JP, so there is no point in talking about inexperienced youngsters. Time alone can answer what SA is doing to uplift team morale and performance!!

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    It was dreadful to watch, not because Sri Lanka was THAT good, but because they did so poorly. There was no strategy in bowling, no sense of doing the basics right. If you look at Morne Morkel's area where he bowled, it is literally all over the place. no consistent length, no sense of building pressure at all... and he was the most economical of the bunch. That tells two stories... either he was considered the most threatening in the SA bowling lineup and the batsmen were slightly more cautious (with the other bowlers leaking runs, why take the risk?) OR he simply didn't threaten the stumps enough, not making the batsmen play and allowing them to focus on preserving their wicket, which is something SA never even attempted when they batted.

    Bad cricket from SA, they really need to pick up their bowling and fielding... if they had a gameplan and bowled well, they would have created pressure, generated more chances, and not have to chase 300+.

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    Well done Sri Lanka and especially Sanga. And also a 1st win to young Captain Chandimal. The ODI's arent over but a great start gives the whole team confidence for the future.