It was AB de Villiers’ astute handling of the bowlers that set up the Proteas’ victory over Sri Lanka, says former captain Graeme Smith.
In his column on the ICC official website, Smith said that once the Proteas had lost the toss, it was up to the bowlers to take charge and set the pace.
‘They did just that, with Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott both getting the ball to move around a bit and getting two early wickets.
‘But not resting on his laurels, De Villiers kept the pressure on the Sri Lankans. Cleverly, he brought JP Duminy into the attack in the 14th over and with Kumar Sangakkara struggling to get going, JP was able to rush through four overs quickly and cheaply.
‘Team selection has been a point of contention this tournament but I feel that going with seven batsmen is the right balance for the team. With this, JP understands that he will need to bowl full 10 overs. This mindset will benefit him tremendously and will give him the confidence to perform.’
Smith described De Villiers’ performance in the field as ‘ tactically superb’.
‘His fielding positions, bowling changes and player management were all on point. His belief in the team is unerring and I have no doubt that he is relishing in the responsibility.’
And he was enthusiastic about the support shown for Quinton de Kock, the struggling opener who came good with an innings of 78.
‘It was a welcome return to form for him. The selectors have stuck with him and justifiably so. The knock will give him the world of confidence which he will hopefully take into the semis against either New Zealand or the West Indies.’
‘On to Auckland we go.’