Jon-Jon Smuts said AB de Villiers helped the Proteas believe they could win the second T20I against England, despite staring defeat in the face.
Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow added 110 for the second-wicket to lead the hosts to 125-1 in the 14th over, the result a seemingly foregone conclusion. Smuts said that despite this, De Villiers kept his side believing that the match could be turned on its head.
‘AB was unbelievable. He made us believe that we could win that game from anywhere, and we did. If you looked at where they [England] were after 11 overs, they needed 70 to win with nine wickets in hand, most teams wouldn’t lose many games from there,’ Smuts said.
Smuts showed improved form at the top of the innings, after a duck in the first clash. His 45 anchored the Proteas innings, as the Warriors player batted until the end of the 11th over. He remarked that by not participating in the Champions Trophy, he was not affected by the early exit as some of his teammates had been.
‘I supposed you could say that I was fortunate not to have been part of the Champions Trophy and I haven’t been involved in the disappointments, even though I feel it as a South African,’ Smuts added.
Smuts believes that should the Proteas win the series-decider in Cardiff on Sunday, it would complete a remarkable turnaround in fortunes after suffering a heavy nine-wicket defeat in the series opener. He did, however, stress the importance of staying in the moment.
‘It’s another big game, the series is on the line, this is what we want to play for. We want to win series and to beat England here would be a great comeback for us. We have to treat it like any other game, it is batter versus bowler, one ball at a time,’ he said.
The match is scheduled to begin at 15:30 on Sunday.