South African captain admits that the team is under pressure after losing the game against Pakistan
It was inevitable, given the history associated with South Africa, that the question of ‘choking’ would be asked of AB de Villiers after his team failed to close out Friday’s match against Pakistan at the ICC World Twenty20 2012. Pakistan had slumped to 76 for 7, chasing 134, but recovered strongly through Umar Akmal and Umar Gul to complete a two-wicket win with two deliveries to spare.
Even at the start of the tournament, de Villiers had admitted that his team had choked in the past, but this time, he looked both a little annoyed and angry. “I am very proud of the way we played,” he said. “A lot of people will say we choked. I thought we played good cricket out there. We did well to compete. We held our heads high when we walked off the field because of the way we played. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game, we are very happy with that. We will come back in the next two games and if we play better cricket in both of them and go through to the semi-finals, there won’t be any choking there, that’s for sure.”
Defeat at the hands of Pakistan has left South Africa needing to win both its remaining matches – Australia on Sunday, and India on Tuesday – to entertain hopes of a semi-final berth. “We are under big pressure now,” de Villiers said. “We have to win both to go through, it’s not something we hoped for. The positive thing about the Pakistan game was that we were not 100%. We were well below par and we still competed.
“People tend to forget that we actually fought well to get into a winning position. It’s very easy to look at the one or two overs that we lost the game with ball in hand, but we played unbelievable cricket to get there. I am proud of the way we fought. I think we stand a really good chance of playing good cricket again in the next two matches. We can only go up from here.”
De Villiers didn’t come on to bat until No. 6 against Pakistan, but said that had always been part of the plan. “We lost early wickets there,” he said. “I felt more comfortable on this kind of wicket to bat the last ten or 12 overs. It worked really well. We got to a total where we thought we could compete. We were staring down the barrel with bat in hand after the first eight or ten overs, looking at a total of 100. We got to 134 and that’s competitive on this deck, it proved to be competitive.”
South Africa used Robin Peterson for two overs in the Power Play, and de Villiers didn’t rule out a similar approach against Australia. “We got a few wickets in that period, it really worked well for us,” he said. “It’s definitely a different approach, we haven’t been doing that in the past. It is a very positive thing for us to bowl spinners in the first six, just seeing the results come through like that.
“It’s something to look at, especially on this kind of a wicket if it is turning a bit. Maybe against the Australians, it won’t be a bad game plan. But we won’t forget our pacemen. They are still on top of the world with the way they bowl and I back them to come good and get wickets against Australia.”