Sri Lanka v South Africa, 3rd ODI, Pallekele July 25, 2013

We win games when squeezed - De Villiers

20

Last year in Sri Lanka, AB de Villiers became the first South Africa captain to own up to choking in high pressure limited-overs games. He used the C word liberally both before and after the tournament as though he'd been instructed to publicly embrace the tag as a means of overcoming the team's mental woes in major tournaments.

Ten months later, de Villiers is asserting the opposite about his side's ability to triumph when much is at stake. South Africa will lose the series if they lose another match, but in bilateral affairs, pressure brings out their best, de Villiers said.

"I believe it's the other way around in this series," he said. "When we get squeezed into a corner, we win games. We wake up a bit late in ODI series especially. We lose the first one and the second one maybe, and then all of a sudden, 'woah, let's wake up and start playing cricket now'. If we do the basics well for 100 overs we'll definitely win. I believe in the boys."

De Villiers was also intent on distancing his side from a woeful record in Sri Lanka, despite having lost their first two matches in the series. South Africa have lost their last 11 matches in the country against the hosts, with only one victory to their name. The last ODI series in 2004 was a whitewash, though only JP Duminy and Robin Peterson of the current squad appeared for South Africa then.

"I just want to set one thing clear because I see it in TV screens all over - the fact that we've lost 11 games in a row here. I haven't been part of that. I've played two games and these are my first two ODIs that I've ever played in this country. I don't really care about what happened in the last nine games," said De Villiers "People seem to make a big thing of it. I'm not upset about it and I know it's part of our history, but this team doesn't need the luggage of the past nine games. All these guys are on their first tour here apart from a guy like JP, who made his debut here last time. We'd like to change that. We're 2-0 down now and still alive in this series."

De Villiers also called for more application from his batsmen, who between them are yet to produce a score in excess of 30 in the series. Faced with two tall chases - the second of which was revised via a Duckworth-Lewis calculation - South Africa lost too many wickets before the 20th over to mount a serious challenge.

"It's not really because we were being too aggressive," he said. "We struggled to adapt to the change of the Powerplays. We did really well in the Powerplay, even though we lost a wicket in the first over in both games, we seemed to recover really well. After the Powerplay was done and the field spread, we just lost wickets out of nowhere.

"I think there was a lack of awareness from our side - just awareness that we are playing 50-over cricket here, not 20 overs. Maybe for the first 20 overs we need to have more of a Test-match mindset, and from 10 to 20 to really get partnerships going and get stuck into the conditions and all the bowlers. Maybe we'll give them one spell and look at their second spell to attack. We haven't really had the opportunity to look at that yet, because we haven't batted for that long."

South Africa have lost eight of their 15 wickets this series to spin, but de Villiers was confident his side had hatched a plan to neutralise the threat, particularly that of Rangana Herath who is the leading wicket-taker in the series so far, with five dismissals at 8.20.

"We've been a bit lackadaisical when it comes to playing Herath and we've tried to hit him too square," De Villiers said. "We all know he doesn't get a lot of bounce. He's a skiddy kind of bowler, so we'll try to play him straighter, which we did well in South Africa. He's definitely handier in his own conditions and maybe he gets a bit more turn. But he's not a massive threat for us."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 26, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    abv is poor as a captain period and the team we have the less said the better,never seen an SA team this poor its quite annoying

  • on July 26, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    As a fellow South African, it pains me to say this. As much as I respect AB as a batsman, I don't think he's been particularly good as a captain. To be honest, I think we need Graeme Smith back. In the last few years our ODI batting lineup has been more fragile than it's ever been. One crack usually causes the entire lineup to shatter. The experimenting has been going on for too long, and nobody knows their true place in the lineup anymore. I hope something changes soon, but I won't be holding my breath.

  • King-Cobra on July 26, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    @Street_Hawk, Spot on mate! SA only know to 'choke' in a crunch situation!! Now please don't come after me for that, instead roll back that history book.

  • on July 26, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    "WAKE UP AND START PLAYING CRICKET " as though earlier they were playing some other sport. That's ridiculous .

  • on July 26, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    Blade runner your view is pretty dumb. To be a good team you have to master all conditions , specially if you have a choker label and a 11 lose record against the opposition. Also if you have to meet similar but arguably better opposition in the near future you would obviously take the series very seriously as you are playing for your country. True SA is famous for some of the dumbest mistakes in cricket but you should give the SA planners the credit of at least an average IQ.

  • ChaitsChants on July 26, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    Interesting! AB De Villiers has said that most of the players are playing in Sri Lanka for the first time. Almost 8 to 9 players including AB from this team were part of last T20 World cup held in Sri Lanka. So they are not that unfamilier with the conditions and pitches as they are pretending. Agreed formats are different, but not making difference. SA probably need to focus on their strengths rather than going by Sri Lankas way.

  • khiladisher on July 26, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    @Blade Runner-Its a second string Proteas side that has visited Lanka,still I fancy them to win 3-2.They play great in crunch games at bilateral series,even if both these sides have a poor record at ICC Major events.

  • Perera32 on July 26, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    @gtr800: Buddy, you said Sri Lankan wickets are " two paced and extremely slow", I don't agree with that. Maybe the RPS is slow but not two paced, Sangakkara's innings of 160+ showed that, if you spend time in the middle and get used to the pitch then you can score big. If it was two paced, I doubt he'd have passed 50. Oh dear you said, if bowlers get rewarded for bowling at the stumps in SL, they get wickets in Sri Lanka, well thats the point of bowling in cricket not only in Sri lanka but in every other country. Herath doesn't get much turn, even in SL at times, but it's his accuracy which has claimed him wickets especially LBW and Bowled. What about the penultimate over in the last match from Malinga to miller, only 1 run came off it. Had it gone for 8+ runs, then SA might have had a good chance of winning. If you think Malinga is only good vs Average players, then you lack cricket knowledge mate. It's clear SA struggle with spin, just look at Dilshan's bowling figure this series.

  • Street_Hawk on July 26, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    really AB, really??? As far as I know, you guys choke when you are squeezed

  • cheguramana on July 26, 2013, 0:25 GMT

    I don't understand why ABD took up wicket keeping full time. He was developing into the next great batsman for South Africa. I don't think he's quite able to cope with the triple pressures of batting, wicket keeping and captaincy. He's shud not be making these silly comments abt opposition bowlers. No point cribbing abt conditions or pitches either. He shud just accept that they have not measured upto the challenge so far. I am a huge fan of his batting talent. Hope he can just make the best of that ! (Hope he is not getting inspired by Dhoni. Dhoni is unusual, he came up the ranks as a wicketkeeper/batsman. Captanicy came later and he's unique in cricket history for being such a huge success as a wicketkeeper/batsman/captain).

  • on July 26, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    abv is poor as a captain period and the team we have the less said the better,never seen an SA team this poor its quite annoying

  • on July 26, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    As a fellow South African, it pains me to say this. As much as I respect AB as a batsman, I don't think he's been particularly good as a captain. To be honest, I think we need Graeme Smith back. In the last few years our ODI batting lineup has been more fragile than it's ever been. One crack usually causes the entire lineup to shatter. The experimenting has been going on for too long, and nobody knows their true place in the lineup anymore. I hope something changes soon, but I won't be holding my breath.

  • King-Cobra on July 26, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    @Street_Hawk, Spot on mate! SA only know to 'choke' in a crunch situation!! Now please don't come after me for that, instead roll back that history book.

  • on July 26, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    "WAKE UP AND START PLAYING CRICKET " as though earlier they were playing some other sport. That's ridiculous .

  • on July 26, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    Blade runner your view is pretty dumb. To be a good team you have to master all conditions , specially if you have a choker label and a 11 lose record against the opposition. Also if you have to meet similar but arguably better opposition in the near future you would obviously take the series very seriously as you are playing for your country. True SA is famous for some of the dumbest mistakes in cricket but you should give the SA planners the credit of at least an average IQ.

  • ChaitsChants on July 26, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    Interesting! AB De Villiers has said that most of the players are playing in Sri Lanka for the first time. Almost 8 to 9 players including AB from this team were part of last T20 World cup held in Sri Lanka. So they are not that unfamilier with the conditions and pitches as they are pretending. Agreed formats are different, but not making difference. SA probably need to focus on their strengths rather than going by Sri Lankas way.

  • khiladisher on July 26, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    @Blade Runner-Its a second string Proteas side that has visited Lanka,still I fancy them to win 3-2.They play great in crunch games at bilateral series,even if both these sides have a poor record at ICC Major events.

  • Perera32 on July 26, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    @gtr800: Buddy, you said Sri Lankan wickets are " two paced and extremely slow", I don't agree with that. Maybe the RPS is slow but not two paced, Sangakkara's innings of 160+ showed that, if you spend time in the middle and get used to the pitch then you can score big. If it was two paced, I doubt he'd have passed 50. Oh dear you said, if bowlers get rewarded for bowling at the stumps in SL, they get wickets in Sri Lanka, well thats the point of bowling in cricket not only in Sri lanka but in every other country. Herath doesn't get much turn, even in SL at times, but it's his accuracy which has claimed him wickets especially LBW and Bowled. What about the penultimate over in the last match from Malinga to miller, only 1 run came off it. Had it gone for 8+ runs, then SA might have had a good chance of winning. If you think Malinga is only good vs Average players, then you lack cricket knowledge mate. It's clear SA struggle with spin, just look at Dilshan's bowling figure this series.

  • Street_Hawk on July 26, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    really AB, really??? As far as I know, you guys choke when you are squeezed

  • cheguramana on July 26, 2013, 0:25 GMT

    I don't understand why ABD took up wicket keeping full time. He was developing into the next great batsman for South Africa. I don't think he's quite able to cope with the triple pressures of batting, wicket keeping and captaincy. He's shud not be making these silly comments abt opposition bowlers. No point cribbing abt conditions or pitches either. He shud just accept that they have not measured upto the challenge so far. I am a huge fan of his batting talent. Hope he can just make the best of that ! (Hope he is not getting inspired by Dhoni. Dhoni is unusual, he came up the ranks as a wicketkeeper/batsman. Captanicy came later and he's unique in cricket history for being such a huge success as a wicketkeeper/batsman/captain).

  • johnathonjosephs on July 25, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    What was first supposed to be a meaningless bilateral ODI series has now evolved into something bigger. It should have been 2 tests in this series and maybe 3 ODIs but this ODI series replacing Tests has.

  • chitti_cricket on July 25, 2013, 23:21 GMT

    In Srilanka, no other team other than home team and India have done better. India also did better here becuase of their own poor pitches back home. The pitches here only assist spinners and are two paced, some balls bounce and some keep low. Apart from pitches, Srilankans have good spin bowling attack.Other than subcontinet teams don't play spin well and they perish in subcontinent confitions if they think they constantly can attack the bowling.So adivse to SA is they play to the merit, they allow Rangana to bowl his owers even if economical and take on other bowlers. like Rangana give 30-40 runs in his 10 over that is fine, don't risk your wickets on him. Take on other bowlers, even Malinga gives 40 runs that should be fine. still they have other 30 overs from where they can score a good 200 and make their score around 270-280. Have to have plans AB to win against Srilanka in their back yard.Seems like India have good plans against them and had good success against them.

  • on July 25, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    @Perera32 not admitting weakness equates to bad behaviour ???

  • gtr800 on July 25, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    @Blade-Runner You have to understand that most teams find it difficult to come to Sri Lanka - not because of the spinning wickets but the two paced extremely slow nature of them. AB is only voicing the general opinion that Herath is good in his backyard only & on similar pitches. These types of wickets as a spectator are the worst to see, because bowlers get rewarded for bowling just at the stumps because the wickets does everything for them. Herath doesn't even get much turn - but in Sri Lanka he becomes a Warne. Malinga's 2 wickets were just naive batting from two average players. Tbh, it doesn't seem like SA care too much about this series- it just seems like a team 'B' that India sent to Zimbabwe. SA have a more important series coming up with India.:))

  • on July 25, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    Thirmanne's injury seems a blessing in disguise. He is definitely not mentally equipped to play ODIs. It is true he scored a hundred in Australia but on that occasion the required run rate was hardly anything. The best for him as well as the team is to keep him out of the ODI and T20 squads and let him play more test cricket. Even in tests he has not yet established in the team. A century against Bangladesh can be hardly regarded as an achievement. Once he proves that he can stand up to top class international bowling, we can try him out again in ODIs. It is about time Angelo Perera is given a go. Then we can see whether he can transform his first class performance in the same way in international cricket. Not all cricketers with excellent first class record will do well in international cricket. On the other hand someone with not so impressive first class record could succeed in international cricket. As for De Villiers he should make his bat do the talking.

  • FighterKallis on July 25, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    South africa is a consistent team than others but they are glued too much with test cricket. They should concentrate more on odis. de Cock is an attacking young player who can be the next gibbs with nice glove work. what is alviro doing he is only for tests and even there he is bit struggling.Playing 2 spinners against asian teams wont work . My saffa XI in this order de cock , ingram , devillers ,faf , duminy ,miller , mc laren , peterson, morkel kleinvelt , tsotsobe . If hashim returns then throw faf out . De cock to rock srilanka

  • Blade-Runner on July 25, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    @Perera32 ; Exactly, He just says things which don't make any sense. He says that Malinga hasn't done much damage. But He picked up a wkt in his first over in both matches while SA were chasing big targets. So if it was not a big damage according to the standards of AB, how did they lose both matches. May be AB is expecting Malinga to take both openers out in his 1st over n call it a damage. :)) Against Herath , SA batsmen were at sea. But Herath isn't a big threat , of course according to AB. :)) I have such a huge respect for this guy but he disappoints me with these kinda talks. I'd like to see him owns up to his/their failures n give credits to the victors.

  • gtr800 on July 25, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    To be fair to AB De Villiers & South Africa it must be pretty hard to play in pitches where the bounce is less than half of what you expect. Judging from what I have seen Sri Lankan pitches are by far the worst for most overseas players especially outside the sub-continent. Even India & Pakistan has more bouncier tracks. Most teams struggle in Sri Lanka. If Amla doesn't play the next odi, I fear it could be a lost cause for SA. Just hope they overcome this 11 match losing streak & realize that Sri Lanka aren't anything special at the moment just become competitive in their backyard.

  • on July 25, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    South Africa wants to refresh their batting line up by sending miller as a opening batsman. It's a gamble but he may can be replace the place of Gibbs for a kicking start. Hope currently he is trying to fill the gap of lance klucener.

  • Perera32 on July 25, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    AB De Villiers said that even though Malinga has picked up a wicket in the first over in both games, that SA have played Malinga well. Now he has said that SA played Herath well in SA last time, which isn't true because Herath was influential the last time SA lost a test match. I've lost a lot of respect for De Villiers this tour, despite him being a great player, his behaviour on the field and out of it has been poor. He should admit, SA's weak batting and their weakness playing spinners.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Perera32 on July 25, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    AB De Villiers said that even though Malinga has picked up a wicket in the first over in both games, that SA have played Malinga well. Now he has said that SA played Herath well in SA last time, which isn't true because Herath was influential the last time SA lost a test match. I've lost a lot of respect for De Villiers this tour, despite him being a great player, his behaviour on the field and out of it has been poor. He should admit, SA's weak batting and their weakness playing spinners.

  • on July 25, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    South Africa wants to refresh their batting line up by sending miller as a opening batsman. It's a gamble but he may can be replace the place of Gibbs for a kicking start. Hope currently he is trying to fill the gap of lance klucener.

  • gtr800 on July 25, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    To be fair to AB De Villiers & South Africa it must be pretty hard to play in pitches where the bounce is less than half of what you expect. Judging from what I have seen Sri Lankan pitches are by far the worst for most overseas players especially outside the sub-continent. Even India & Pakistan has more bouncier tracks. Most teams struggle in Sri Lanka. If Amla doesn't play the next odi, I fear it could be a lost cause for SA. Just hope they overcome this 11 match losing streak & realize that Sri Lanka aren't anything special at the moment just become competitive in their backyard.

  • Blade-Runner on July 25, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    @Perera32 ; Exactly, He just says things which don't make any sense. He says that Malinga hasn't done much damage. But He picked up a wkt in his first over in both matches while SA were chasing big targets. So if it was not a big damage according to the standards of AB, how did they lose both matches. May be AB is expecting Malinga to take both openers out in his 1st over n call it a damage. :)) Against Herath , SA batsmen were at sea. But Herath isn't a big threat , of course according to AB. :)) I have such a huge respect for this guy but he disappoints me with these kinda talks. I'd like to see him owns up to his/their failures n give credits to the victors.

  • FighterKallis on July 25, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    South africa is a consistent team than others but they are glued too much with test cricket. They should concentrate more on odis. de Cock is an attacking young player who can be the next gibbs with nice glove work. what is alviro doing he is only for tests and even there he is bit struggling.Playing 2 spinners against asian teams wont work . My saffa XI in this order de cock , ingram , devillers ,faf , duminy ,miller , mc laren , peterson, morkel kleinvelt , tsotsobe . If hashim returns then throw faf out . De cock to rock srilanka

  • on July 25, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    Thirmanne's injury seems a blessing in disguise. He is definitely not mentally equipped to play ODIs. It is true he scored a hundred in Australia but on that occasion the required run rate was hardly anything. The best for him as well as the team is to keep him out of the ODI and T20 squads and let him play more test cricket. Even in tests he has not yet established in the team. A century against Bangladesh can be hardly regarded as an achievement. Once he proves that he can stand up to top class international bowling, we can try him out again in ODIs. It is about time Angelo Perera is given a go. Then we can see whether he can transform his first class performance in the same way in international cricket. Not all cricketers with excellent first class record will do well in international cricket. On the other hand someone with not so impressive first class record could succeed in international cricket. As for De Villiers he should make his bat do the talking.

  • gtr800 on July 25, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    @Blade-Runner You have to understand that most teams find it difficult to come to Sri Lanka - not because of the spinning wickets but the two paced extremely slow nature of them. AB is only voicing the general opinion that Herath is good in his backyard only & on similar pitches. These types of wickets as a spectator are the worst to see, because bowlers get rewarded for bowling just at the stumps because the wickets does everything for them. Herath doesn't even get much turn - but in Sri Lanka he becomes a Warne. Malinga's 2 wickets were just naive batting from two average players. Tbh, it doesn't seem like SA care too much about this series- it just seems like a team 'B' that India sent to Zimbabwe. SA have a more important series coming up with India.:))

  • on July 25, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    @Perera32 not admitting weakness equates to bad behaviour ???

  • chitti_cricket on July 25, 2013, 23:21 GMT

    In Srilanka, no other team other than home team and India have done better. India also did better here becuase of their own poor pitches back home. The pitches here only assist spinners and are two paced, some balls bounce and some keep low. Apart from pitches, Srilankans have good spin bowling attack.Other than subcontinet teams don't play spin well and they perish in subcontinent confitions if they think they constantly can attack the bowling.So adivse to SA is they play to the merit, they allow Rangana to bowl his owers even if economical and take on other bowlers. like Rangana give 30-40 runs in his 10 over that is fine, don't risk your wickets on him. Take on other bowlers, even Malinga gives 40 runs that should be fine. still they have other 30 overs from where they can score a good 200 and make their score around 270-280. Have to have plans AB to win against Srilanka in their back yard.Seems like India have good plans against them and had good success against them.

  • johnathonjosephs on July 25, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    What was first supposed to be a meaningless bilateral ODI series has now evolved into something bigger. It should have been 2 tests in this series and maybe 3 ODIs but this ODI series replacing Tests has.