De Villiers not popping the champagne just yet
Middle-order batsman AB de Villiers, in his first tour as South Africa’s ODI captain, says the Proteas cannot rest on their laurels as they look to wrap up a series victory over Sri Lanka.
The hosts go into the third match with a 2-0 advantage and a victory in Bloemfontein on Tuesday would seal the five-match series.
“I’m not going to touch the money yet,” De Villiers said on Monday.
“There is still a lot of hard work ahead of us but we’ll go out there with everything we have, try and play the best game possible and hopefully come out on top.”
Sri Lanka improved vastly from the first ODI, where they were bowled out for 43—their lowest total ever—to set a target of 237 runs in the second game.
Their star batsmen, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, have not done justice to their reputations, but De Villiers said they remained a dangerous prospect.
“They are three big factors, and if they come good, we’ll try and minimise the damage,” De Villiers said.
Back to basics
“So we must make sure we play good cricket, focus on our combinations and our basics and, if we do that well, we’ll win on the day.”
Historically, South Africa have a good record at Chevrolet Park and have not lost at the ground since Australia’s 37-run victory in March 2002, when Graeme Smith made his ODI debut and Ricky Ponting scored his first hundred as captain.
They will be without veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who is being rested, opening batsman Hashim Amla, who has returned home for personal reasons and injured seam bowler Rory Kleinveldt.
De Villiers, however, said the last three matches of the series offered a chance to mix things up, with Alviro Petersen, Colin Ingram and Vernon Philander having joined the 14-man squad.
“It’s important for us to win this series—that comes first,” De Villiers said.
“It’s also one of those series, though, where we want to try some different combinations.
“We have a massive tour of New Zealand coming up, so Jacques has gone home for a bit of rest.
“Hashim Amla is with his wife [who is expecting her first child], but luckily they’re not unknown boys who have come in to the side, so it’s very exciting for us.”
Regardless of their line-up, De Villiers said the Proteas hoped to wrap up the series with two games to play.
“It’s a very big game for us and we’re not taking it lightly,” the skipper said.
“Even with some of the new guys coming in, we have the foundations in place.
“Everything looks good and we have the momentum but our feet are firmly on the ground.”—Sapa.