‘Proteas still best in World Cup even after drubbing from Pakistan’


WELLINGTON: South African captain AB de Villiers insisted Wednesday that South Africa were re-energised and had shrugged off their inconsistent early form at the World Cup, boldly declaring “we’re the best team in the tournament”.

The Proteas skipper was in a bullish mood ahead of South Africa’s final Pool B match against the United Arab Emirates in Wellington on Thursday, despite losses to India and Pakistan in the group stages.

Although India had been a tough opponent but Pakistan was much less fancied against dangerous South Africa and the defeat actually brought the high-flying Proteas back down to earth.

He acknowledged South Africa had endured a “rocky road” so far but said the vigour that was lacking when the pre-tournament favourites slumped to a 29-run loss against Pakistan had returned.

“It’s all positive from here on in, I still feel very confident,” he said. “I believe 100 percent we’re the best team in the tournament.

“Those two losses in the group stages did hurt us a bit and did hurt me a bit, but we’re past that now.”

As the knockout stages loom, de Villiers added: “We know we’re a few games away from taking that World Cup home.”

South Africa have looked strongest when batting first, amassing 400-plus against the West Indies and Ireland, but faltered when chasing against India and Pakistan.

Former captain Graeme Smith has expressed concern rivals will exploit such vulnerability in the knockout stages, although de Villiers said the fears were unfounded.

“As long as we get (the basics) right, then I truly believe we can chase down anything,” he said. “It’s not a problem. We’ve done it in the last year a few times under pressure.

“I believe there are a few guys due for big runs, and it’s going to happen soon, at the right time.”

De Villiers said the UAE tie was a must-win if South Africa wanted to wrap up second spot in Pool B, setting up a likely quarter-final clash against Sri Lanka.

“There are a few guys I’d like to get into form… all around I’d just like to show a good performance,” he said.

De Villiers said seamer Vernon Philander (hamstring) and batsman Faf du Plessis (lower back) would face late fitness tests.

He was also cagey when asked whether the UAE presented a chance to give match time to members of the extended squad such as Wayne Parnell and Aaron Phangiso.

“It’s a difficult one, you don’t want to mess around too much with your best possible 11, keeping in mind that all 15 need to play somewhere along the line in the World Cup,” he said. AFP