AB de Villiers says South Africa played the pressure moments well to beat New Zealand in the final ODI on Wednesday in Durban and clinch the series 2-1.
The victories mean South Africa have not lost successive ODI series for the first time in five years and they have now moved up to No 3 on the ICC’s ODI rankings.
De Villiers also managed to reach 8 000 ODI runs, the fastest batsman to do so, as the home side won by 62 runs despite dropping three catches.
‘It’s really a good series win, I’m pretty happy with that,’ De Villiers said after the game. ‘We know New Zealand weren’t at full strength, but we weren’t either. We didn’t play good cricket for most of the series except for the last game; we sort of clicked a little bit, with bat and ball we were really smart most of the time and I feel we played the pressure moments really well.
‘The first two games certainly were rollercoaster rides. ‘We showed in the final game that commitment and resilience that we do have in the side. Once we got the momentum on our side we ran with it really well and never gave it away again. We had a near flawless innings with the ball in hand except for the few catches that went down. I thought the commitment and the urgency and intensity of the bowlers was spot on.’
De Villiers and David Miller batted well through the middle period after Hashim Amla and Morne van Wyk shared a 89-run opening partnership – South Africa’s highest for 17 ODIs.
‘The game turned with the partnership between me and David Miller and we managed to reach 280, which we thought wasn’t even close to possible. It was a nice total for the bowlers to bowl to.’
De Villiers is now the fastest player to reach 8 000 runs in just 182 innings, 18 fewer than the next best, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly.
‘I stumbled across the 8 000-run milestone mention on Twitter a few days ago,’ De Villiers said. ‘I’ve never shown any interest in stats like that and records. I enjoyed the Wanderers hundred [against the West Indies last year which was the fastest ODI hundred ever], but it has never crossed my mind that that is why I play the game.
‘I don’t enjoy records and stats like that. What does 8 000 runs mean? What about 8 020 runs? I just want to score runs for the team and have an impact. I had an impact today and that is what I’m proud of.’
Farhaan Behardien scored a very well played 40 at the end of the innings to further strengthen his case for future inclusion.
‘We had a little chat before the start of the series and I thought he was moving exceptionally well in the nets prior to the series,’ De Villiers said of Behardien.
‘I really sensed that something special was coming and the way he’s playing at the moment in the middle is exceptional. If we can have a batter at No 6 in form and showing confidence like that then we are going to win a lot of ODIs because of that position, so I’m very excited for what is to come if he’s going to play like that.’
The number of catches dropped in this series remains a problem, but De Villiers was at a loss to explain why it happened.
‘I have no idea; the month of August perhaps?’ he joked. ‘I was quite surprised by all the catches that went down; the fielding wasn’t great. I’m not too worried about that. We train hard. If catches go down it’s part of the game. We don’t try to do that, so hopefully we can fix it very soon.
Hashim Amla was crowned Man of the Series and admitted it was disappointing not to get runs prior to his hundred in the first match.
‘Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes you don’t get runs and the hunger increases. The conditions in August played a little different than in summer. The wickets had more in it for the bowlers, which was brilliant. I actually think that is how ODI cricket should be played with something in it for the bowlers.
‘It makes it more entertaining for everybody.’