South Africa captainAB de Villiers is looking for a more dynamic performance from his team as they come up against what he believes is a more consistent West Indies team. The two sides will meet for the second time in the round-robin stage of the ongoing ODI tri-series in Basseterre on Wednesday.
"They're not as unpredictable as they used to be. They've become a really good ODI unit," de Villiers said of West Indies. "They seem to know what they're doing - they've got world-class players both in the batting line-up and the bowling line-up. They're a force to be reckoned with, especially in their home conditions. They know what to expect."
West Indies have won two of their three matches - one each against South Africa and Australia - in their first ODI series at home in almost two years. They last played a 50-over series at home in August 2014, when they beat Bangladesh 3-0. Before that, they lost series against England (2-1) and Pakistan (3-1) in February 2014 and July 2013 respectively.
The most noticeable difference between the West Indies side of 2014 and the current squad is the absence of players like Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, but senior players like Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Marlon Samuels have emerged as the superstars of this series for West Indies so far and the only way de Villiers can see South Africa matching up is as a collective. "They've got world-class players all round but we're just going to have to top that and have a better team performance. That's the word that stands out for me - us operating as a team which was something we didn't do well in the last game [against Australia]."
South Africa's batting has been a tale of two halves with the top five getting starts but only two of the bottom six getting into double figures in the three matches so far. Their only reserve batsman, Dean Elgar, plays in the top five, which means that to include him they would have to do away with a bowler. The other option is to bring in the other allrounder, Chris Morris. Either way, de Villiers hinted changes would be in order.
"I'm a big believer, in a series like this, where there are three different venues, that you've got to chop and change the whole time; try not to be predictable but, at the same time, try and be consistent with your performances," he said. "We've let ourselves down once or twice in the performances department but I've really enjoyed the way we've changed the balance of the side. All the guys who came in performed really well individually but as a team we haven't clicked yet. That will be our focus - really operating together as a team, gelling nicely together, and I believe we'll play those pressure situations much better."
De Villiers admitted there was a sense of "doom and gloom" after South Africa's 36-run loss to Australia last Saturday, when they slipped from 210 for 4 to 252 all out in a 289-run chase. The South Africa captain, however, chose to focus on the other, more positive, side of their game - the bowling.
"Our bowling department's been really good. The bowling skills have been as good as they've been in the last two or three years," he said. "I've seen guys really nailing their yorkers. When I've asked for bouncers, really good aggressive bouncers have been bowled. Skill-wise everyone who has come in has got it right. There's been just one or two no-balls too many. Maybe it's just a bit of a lack of that unit that I've been talking about, playing together as a team."