AB de Villiers lauded his team’s all-round performance as the Proteas began their Champions Trophy campaign with a 96-run win over Sri Lanka.
On a tricky pitch at the Oval, where the par score was much cause for debate, the opening pair of Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock made a sluggish but cautious start to reach 32 without loss after ten overs.
‘Both of them [Amla and De Kock] bat around a 100 strike rate without even trying, so when we saw that it told a story,’ De Villiers said.
Though Amla lost De Kock in the thirteenth over, the former Test captain continued on to reach his 25th ODI century, thus setting a new record for the most ODI hundreds for South Africa.
‘It was an amazing innings, he did really well to assess the conditions and he communicated well with us what kind of score was going to be good,’ De Villiers continued.
‘He communicated that it was important not to lose too many wickets in the first 10-15 overs because there was quite a lot in that wicket early on.’
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The Proteas also put on a much-improved fielding display, highlighted by a terrific run-out by Imran Tahir and a cracking catch by De Villiers himself to dismiss Suranga Lakmal and Kusal Mendis respectively.
Their performance in the field holds particular significance, given the Proteas’ recent struggles against England, where dropped catches contributed to a 2-1 series defeat.
‘It’s always important to take those little opportunities that come your way which we did, so I was really happy with the way we fielded,’ De Villiers added.
We’ve worked really hard on that department of our game and really happy with how it went today.’
De Villiers also praised the patience and composure his team showed after a fast start by the Sri Lankan openers, which saw them canter to 68-0 after only eight overs.
‘I was very happy with how we just hung in there in the first ten overs. We stayed calm and composed and used all the information we were getting to make a breakthrough, so very happy with those first few wickets,’ De Villiers remarked.
After testing different bowling attacks throughout the England series, De Villiers dispelled the notion that the Proteas had fielded their strongest attack against Sri Lanka.
‘The attack we selected for today’s game was based on the conditions we were faced with and the opposition as well. We felt it was the best attack to get through the Sri Lankan batting order today and we were right with that,’ he said.
‘We felt it was the best attack to get through the Sri Lankan batting order today and we were right with that,’ he said.
‘I won’t say it is our best attack for the rest of the year or anything like that, but it worked today and our plans were really good.’
De Villiers concluded by urging his side to maintain the intensity and composure they showed against Sri Lanka for their remaining matches.
‘There were quite a few challenges throughout the day, but it gives us confidence going into the next game. More of the same, good intensity, calm cricket. If we continue to take our opportunities it will get us into a good position more often than not,’ he concluded.
South Africa’s next assignment is against Pakistan on Wednesday.