South Africa captains says team prepared well, but didn't click when it mattered the most
It didn’t require AB de Villiers to admit openly that he was hurt by South Africa’s performance at the ICC World Twenty20 2012 to realise how deeply he had been impacted by three consecutive defeats in the Super Eights of the competition.
De Villiers looked completely shattered as he fronted up after South Africa went down, by one run, in its last Group 2 match against India on Tuesday night. Typically, he didn’t offer any excuses for the hat-trick of losses, and acknowledged that his team had ‘choked’ against Pakistan in its first Super Eights game when, defending 134, it allowed Pakistan to escape from 76 for 7 and clinch a two-wicket win.
“We just didn’t play good cricket,” he said. “It started against Pakistan where we got ourselves into a winning position and we somehow managed to find a way to lose that game. We still didn’t give up hope after that, worked really hard and came back against Australia. We just got beaten by a better unit on that day.
“We tried hard again today but just never clicked in this tournament. We did all the preparation, fought really hard. It’s hard to put my finger on any one thing, we just played poor cricket right throughout. It is very disappointing, especially with all the support we got. We really felt very well supported throughout the tournament and to disappoint everyone, it hurts quite a lot.
“The big moments and the pressure moments, when it really mattered, we were found wanting, especially in that Pakistan game. We should have closed that game. It’s simple to say – we choked that game; that’s a simple fact. We have got to go back and become a better team.”
South Africa had already been eliminated before its match against India, but de Villiers said it hadn’t been hard at all to get himself and the team up. “Obviously we knew what the story was before we went out but every time I put this (South African) shirt on, it’s a huge honour,” he said. “We gave it our best again tonight and unfortunately weren’t good enough. I will have to get back home and clear my mind before I start taking any learning out of this tournament.
“My head is spinning a little bit, not really knowing where exactly we went wrong. It’s a very emotional tournament, especially when you don’t play well as a team. Our next T20 game is in December, against New Zealand. We will definitely come back a better team, I know that. I have faith in the guys.”
Pakistan had used spin as a key weapon to overwhelm Australia in the day’s first game, but India played just the one specialist spinner, R Ashwin, against South Africa when it had to win by a margin of 31 runs or with four overs to spare to get through on the net run rate. “I was quite surprised, I expected another spinner to play,” said de Villiers. “That’s probably the way they read the situation and the conditions. It got them a win, you can’t fault that. You can’t say they made a bad mistake but I was expecting an extra spinner. On this kind of wicket and especially after watching the previous game, I thought they would play the extra spinner.”