AB de Villiers says the team spirit of the South African team is one of the main reasons for their continued success away from home.
South Africa won the fifth ODI against India on Sunday by 214 runs to clinch the series 3-2 after scoring a massive 438-4 and then bowling India out for 224.
The Proteas have now won both the T20 and the ODI series as they head into the four-match Test series.
‘It’s an incredible achievement to win the two series,’ De Villiers said. ‘The Tests will be a big challenge again. India will want to come back harder and stronger and we know they have the ability to do that. We are very hungry for success and very hungry to make history as a cricket team.
‘We love travelling abroad. That is where our team spirit kicks in. It really plays a role in us playing better cricket. We’ve got an incredible culture going in the team. We’ve got respect for each other. I think it’s driven by some of the senior players and a culture which was started a few years ago. We know who we are playing for and why we are playing the game. We really enjoy the simple things about cricket. And not only cricket but off the field as well; about life and really getting to know each other. I truly believe that’s an area where we are better than other teams around the world is our team spirit and the culture that we have. We are very proud of that.’
This was the first time any South African team managed to win an ODI series in India and it was fitting that the Proteas left their best performance for last.
‘It was obviously a huge game, a final. History was on the line. In that regard it was definitely the biggest and best game I’ve captained,’ De Villiers said.
‘It was a complete performance with bat and ball. With the bat in hand over the last 20-30 overs we are definitely the best batting line-up in the world. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve proven that over quite a few years now.
‘We controlled the pace of the innings really well with Imran bowling in tandem with the seamers. So those are the strengths we focus on, rather than where we can expose India. That’s more up to me during game time to sense a bit of a weakness in certain areas which I thought we as a team did pretty well. Not only me but some of the senior players came up with really good plans at times. I think we’ve kept it really simple which is probably our strength.’
Dale Steyn (3-38) and Kagiso Rabada (4-41) were again the pick of the South African bowlers, taking the bulk of the wickets to put their team firmly on top.
The pair finished the series as the joint top wicket-takers in the series with 10 victims each, while AB de Villiers scored 358 runs to be the highest run-scorer, followed by Faf du Plessis (323) and Quinton de Kock (318).
‘I think all the seamers had a fantastic series. Dale really got fired up when I brought him back on. I thought we got that timing spot on. All the seamers hit their straps really well. We had great control in the first 10 overs because we knew India were going to try and get off to a flyer. To restrict them to 5.5 runs in the first 10 overs was just unbelievable,’ De Villiers said.
‘Faf didn’t get enough credit for his knock. He came in in a very difficult situation in the middle of the innings where India’s spinners started dominating a little bit. He controlled the innings exceptionally well which allowed myself and Quinton to free up. Both of us scored faster than run-a-ball hundreds and that was because of Faf’s stability at the other end.
‘He was getting really tired throughout his innings and to show that kind of determination towards the end to be the anchor for our batting line-up, which isn’t an easy job to have, is just incredible. I think he didn’t get a lot of credit but the knock he played was probably the most important one of the three.’
South Africa will now shift their focus to the final part of the tour with the first Test starting on 5 November.
‘There is no reason why we can’t win the Test series but we know there is a lot of hard work ahead. It’s going to be a great series.’