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Playing at home, I think the pressure is on them: De Villiers

The South African captain expects side bowling first to have an extra advantage at the Oval

Playing at home, I think the pressure is on them: De Villiers - Cricket News
South Africa's captain AB de Villiers.
If you guys get rained out tomorrow, England will progress because they've topped the group. Do you think that's a fair system?
Yeah. I think obviously whoever finishes top of the log worked for their points, and that's just how it is. It's something that's out of our control. Like I said in the previous game, there was a lot of weather around in Cardiff, but it's out of our control. We're just here to play the game, so we'll do the same thing tomorrow.
How is Dale today to the best of your knowledge? We saw him have a run around and a few stretches?
Yeah, we're just managing his workload at the moment. We know he's played a lot of cricket of late. He's got a few niggles around, which is very worrying, but we're going to do all we can to get him on the park tomorrow. He's close to 100 percent, he's running around. We didn't want to run him too much today because we knew he's one of the best in the world and he's got the skill to just rock up and do the business, so we're just making sure that he gets that extra day of rest, and like you saw, he's working on his rehab and then a few little stretch exercises and just running around making sure we give him the best chance to play tomorrow.
Is he a massive factor for you against England? They regard him so highly, has a good record against England since last year. Is it psychologically important that he plays against England do you think?
I don't think it's psychologically a big factor. He's obviously one of the best in the world, and he's good against any team in any format. It would be great to have him in the team. I don't think it's got anything to do with mental games, anything like that. We're still a very good ODI unit. We've won games without him and with him. It's a semi-final game. It's a big knock-out game, and there will be a lot of pressure around, a lot of hype. Not having him on the side will be big for us, but then again, like I said, we're playing good cricket and we're confident we can beat England without Dale.
Can I just ask what you make of England's team? They got over the line themselves to get here. What have you made of them this summer so far?
They play very good cricket. Obviously they're in their home conditions, they know it very well. I think they've always got good plans, they're a good unit. I'll pretty much keep it short and sweet. We're well aware of the fact that they can beat any team on any day, as well. They're a world-class team and so are we, so it's going to be a great game. Looking forward to it.
AB, obviously last year England and South Africa played a very close and tight series over here. It was two‑all. Did you believe there was nothing in between them or does the fact that South Africa have been winning crunch games this time around gives them a slight edge?

Sorry, I missed half your question there. Last year?
It was two‑all in the ODI series over here in England, and the fact that South Africa have been playing some really winning crunch games over here this time around, do you believe that South Africa have slight edge?
I think both teams have played really well. I don't think any team goes in with extra advantages or anything like that. We have won two knock-out games in a row or two must‑win games, and we definitely take confidence out of that. I won't say it will give us an edge because they're still playing in front of a big home crowd in home conditions. I think it's pretty much 50/50. It's up to the team who rocks up here with the right attitude who can take that momentum early on and run with it. We'll be looking to do exactly that, adapt to conditions as quickly as possible, and we're just going to enjoy the experience tomorrow. It should be a good crowd in here. The way the weather looks it should be all right, and it's a semi-final game. We're all really privileged to be in this position, and as a team we're humbled by the fact that we made it to the knock-out stage and into the semi-finals because it's an opportunity to make our country proud, and we're going to take full advantage of it.
Talking about conditions, what do you make of the fact that the ball has not swung a lot in England this time of the year?
I don't think it's much to do with the swing really in England, I think there's more movement off the deck, and I think we're playing on a new wicket tomorrow. There should be a bit of movement again. Whoever is going to bowl first might have a bit of advantage for the first few overs, but then again, it might slow up in the afternoon. So we'll just go back to the drawing board and have a look where we can do really well.
I think it was the World T20 where you came in straightaway and said, look, let's get something out of the way: We're not chokers. It's something that has followed the South African team because you've been in high pressure games, semi-finals and finals. Is that something that affects this team bearing in mind it's a slightly new look team, slightly transitional team; you haven't got the likes of Graeme Smith or Jacques Kallis here. Or is it something that actually you've got to be wary of and try to deal with as a side?
Look, we've had two big games, the last two games we played, and we didn't choke there. Obviously that's a good start. We owned up to it before. It's something that's been around for a while. I believe all teams choke in certain situations. It's just a ‑‑ we somehow managed to get that tag behind our names. Unless we win this tournament, people will stay say you're chokers, so no matter what happens, it's something we've dealt with. I think we're very comfortable with it in the team. We know what we're capable as a team, we're in a very good space. We're not thinking of stuff like that. But even though in the same breath it's not something that really bothers us at the moment.
I just wanted to ask you about the last time England and South Africa met in a semi-final was in the World Cup in '92, the sort of famous 22 off one ball. Did you watch that? Were you aware of it? You'd have been quite young obviously. Does that have any bearing coming into this game, another semi-final against England just trying to put that to bed, as well?

It's not something we're thinking about, but I watched that game. It's a long time ago, and it was quite sad actually. I think I was crying that night, similar to what happened in the '99 World Cup.
It's a new game, we're a fresh team. Like I said, it's something that doesn't bother us what happened in the past. We know what we're about as a team and as a unit, and we are all really excited about tomorrow. Like I said, we've got a great opportunity to do our country proud, and we'll just take it one step at a time, make sure we do the basics well early on and then hopefully a big upset in the result.
AB, what do you think of Colin Ingram since he's started? He's no longer competing with Jacques Kallis. What's he doing differently at the top of the order now?
I think he just really got to know his game well over the last few years. He's a bit of a rock, someone I really believe in up front, up in the order. He's got a really good mind about him. He thinks about the game in a really mature way. I'm really proud of what he's achieved in the last few years, and looking to push on his buttons again tomorrow.
How big a factor would be Dale Steyn going into this contest?
It would be like I said before, nice to have him in the team tomorrow. It looks like we've got a good chance. He's taking another day off just to make sure we rest him really well, managing his workload really well, and hopefully we can have him on the park. I said before that I don't believe we're lost without him. We definitely can beat England without him. We'll just take it as it comes tomorrow morning.
If you look at your record against England over the last couple years in one‑day cricket it's not very good, and England have had the upper hand of you at home as well as in one‑day cricket. Would it be fair to say that you guys are the underdogs tomorrow compared to previous years?
It's quite simple that they're playing in front of the home crowd in the home conditions, so they must be favorites. We drew one‑all last time we played here in this series, or two‑all, sorry, it was a draw. We played really good cricket, and I felt like we could have won that series, which is a positive to me. I believe we had two big crunch games in the last two games which might give us a lot of confidence, and I believe we can beat them. But yeah, if they're playing in front of the home crowd, I think all the pressure is on them. We'll make sure we do the basics well, like I said before, and if things go our way we'll end up on top.
There is a suggestion out there that England are doing something funny with the ball. Is that something that concerns you or do you leave it to the umpires to sort that out?
If they are doing something funny with the ball, then it's definitely a concern, yes, but we've got no proof of that. Look, they seem to get it to reverse a bit quicker than the rest of the teams so maybe they've just got really good skill in their bowlers. We've tried, as well ‑‑ I think all teams try to do that, and we haven't really managed to succeed in that, but we'll try that again tomorrow and see if our bowlers can find that skill to reverse the ball.
It's something that the umpires and the ICC will probably look into why England and some of the other teams might get it to reverse quicker. All that is really not up to me to decide or to comment on that. But if there is something funny happening, then it's definitely a concern, yes.
Sort of off on a tangent here, but we're showing the British Lions game on SKY. I know you love your rugby, and it's not against South Africa, but will you take a big interest in the British Lions game and how do you think it's going to go?
Definitely, I love watching rugby. I'll actually watch them play up in the change room. It's always great to watch them play. They play with so much pride and passion and I think it's a lot of tradition and history that comes with the British Lions team, and it's always one the hardest, most physical games you can ever watch, and it's great this match. We'll definitely be watching it, and I think the British Lions will finish on top there. I think they'll come through victorious.
You just mentioned the two previous games you played were high‑pressure games. How can you make sure if tomorrow's game gets tense and tight that your guys keep a clear head and don't panic in what could be a high‑pressured situation?
I think the most important thing there is to expect the unexpected. We know it's going to happen. We know the pressure will be there. We're playing in front of a massive crowd and everyone will be against us. I'm expecting the pressure to happen. I think the whole team will be expecting that. It's something we learned from Mike Horn leading up to this tournament, always expecting what you don't think is going to happen. We'll be ready for that, we're prepared for that. We have great team spirit at the moment, and I've got full confidence in all the players around me. It's not up to one or two or three guys. I know each guy on the team can win the game for us. We've worked very well under Gary Kirsten. He's really allowed us to free up our minds and really just show our skills under pressure. It's exactly what we're going to do tomorrow.

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