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Match Reports,07 July 2015

Leie, Phangiso spin South Africa home

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We were on the button from ball one: de Villiers

South Africa captain says all the rain-affected games in England prepared the team for Saturday's game

We were on the button from ball one: de Villiers - Cricket News
AB de Villiers says the tour of England, where rain played a big role, primed the South Africans for the shortened game in Hambantota.
If such a thing is possible, South Africa was better prepared for a seven-over game than Sri Lanka, and AB de Villiers felt this played a part in the manner in which his team held its nerve. On the recent tour of England, South Africa played more than one rain-affected match, and that meant it had some idea of what to expect.  

“I think it must have played a role. We played a couple in England towards the end of our series there. We had a little chat before we started because it’s not easy to keep the focus with all the rain,” said de Villiers. “We spoke about what we learned from England and it was fresh in our minds when we went out. I think that definitely helped. The guys were on the button from ball one.”  

While there was some grumbling about playing such a short game, de Villiers felt that the experience had been worth it. “You can get a reduced over game at any time. It could happen in the final,” said de Villiers. “We’re ready for that now. It’s still a short version of the game. You’ve just got to think on your feet and be brave.”  

If there was one area in which South Africa let itself down, it was on the field, with Faf du Plessis and Albie Morkel both dropping catches that they would have taken thousands of times in fielding drills. “I wasn’t too happy with the fielding, I think we could have been more clinical there,” admitted de Villiers. “It was a bit wet but that’s no excuse. We’re a world class fielding team and we’re better than that.”  

The shot of the day was a clean hit for six off Lasith Malinga, and de Villiers explained the role anticipation played in pulling off such a stunning blow. He’s one of the best in the world and he’s proved that over a long time. “When you bat, if you get anything to hit, you make sure that you do. I don’t think the execution was like Malinga wanted it. He probably wanted to go straighter and a bit higher. I don’t think that’s the best ball he’s ever bowled, but I knew he had a slower ball in him,” said de Villiers. “He had three options with that field. It’s either a slower short ball, a normal bouncer or a full yorker. And it turned out to be that slower short ball. I was expecting it and I got a bit of momentum out of it.”  

South Africa now takes some time off, and will spend a couple of days in a luxury resort in the beach-side town of Hikkaduwa. On the cards is a complete break from cricket, a signature move of the Gary Kirsten-Paddy Upton school of thought. “We will a break away from the game over the next few days and get our minds fresh. What’s going to come is going to be intense and it’s going to require a lot of energy and mental strength as well,” said de Villiers. “When we meet again we’ll make sure we get the quality and not quantity out of the training sessions.”

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