Whatever else the Proteas ODI team lack, it is not support and team-work up front, which is building a solid unit ahead of the World Cup in February.
Fresh from his world-record breaking knock of 149 off 44 balls, Proteas captain AB de Villiers paid tribute to those around him for two phenomenal performances which have seen the team take a 2-0 lead over the West Indies in the five-match series.
‘Lots of credit to Rilee and Hash up front for setting the foundation,’ he said. ‘It allowed me and whoever else came in after that to free up a little bit. It was always going to be a lot of aggressive batting around Hash at the end and it just came off for me.’
‘Hash is making it look easy. He’s a world-class batter and he’s unstoppable at the moment. He’s doing such a great job for us up front and taking a lot of pressure off like myself, David [Miller], Farhaan [Behardien], Faf [du Plessis], we can all just free up and play our games. I’m also very happy for Rilee Rossouw, a phenomenal knock,’ he said.
SA’s final score of 439 was also their highest in ODIs. The 247-run opening stand between Amla and Rossouw was the best first-wicket partnership for SA while the three centuries in the innings was also the first time that had been achieved in ODI cricket.
De Villiers revealed that it was coach Russell Domingo who made the call for him to go in ahead of the big-hitting David Miller.
‘Russell actually made a really good call towards the end of the innings asking me to go in. I wanted David to go in to take the left-arm spinner on, I felt he could do it better, but Russell said no, and it came off.’
De Villiers paid tribute to Miller after the first ODI, which the Proteas won by 61 runs off the Duckworth-Lewis calculation, for which he also won the man of the match award.
‘I feel embarrassed having this award,’ he had said at the time, after scoring 81. ‘I felt David played much better than me. He looked like he played on a different wicket.’
While not a lot can be learnt from such an overwhelming victory, De Villiers believes the unit is coming together for the World Cup. ‘Performances like this helps the confidence,’ he said. ‘That’s what I believe 80 or 90 per cent of sport is about – believing in yourself as a team and as an individual and you can see the difference between teams that play with confidence and teams that don’t.
‘I’d like to believe we are getting more confidence behind us. That’s what this series is all about: for us to play well and get confidence and to go to the World Cup believing we are the best in the world. No team has ever won the World Cup not thinking they are the best. You’ve got to believe you are the best and I think we are close to that.’