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Durban – The reason South Africa lost the fourth Momentum One Day International, allowing Pakistan to level the series, had nothing to do with team selection, said AB de Villiers in Durban on Thursday.
“We got close to winning in the end, so there is nothing wrong with the balance of our team or with our squad,” De Villiers said after South Africa suffered a three-wicket defeat.
“We’re a highly talented team which has been playing some good cricket, against a very good Pakistan team, so the decider will be an exciting clash between two very good teams.”
Hoping to clinch the five-match series in Durban, De Villiers said the Proteas lost momentum early on in the game when they lost the wickets of Hashim Amla and Colin Ingram off the first two balls of the game.
“We fought back really well and tried really hard so I’m proud of the way we bounced back,” he said.
“It shows we’re a strong, resilient team and we’ll go to Benoni, for the last match, with a lot of confidence and I know we can pull it through.”
De Villiers (75) and David Miller (67) shared a 115-run partnership to help the hosts post a reasonable target but De Villiers said he had hoped to bat until at least the 45th over.
“We both played really well and did a massive job for the team. We got us back into the game and to help set a decent total.
“Unfortunately, I got out at a bad time which cost us about 20 runs and they would have been really handy at the end of the match.”
Miller’s innings was extremely valuable and would help him to feel an integral part of the set-up, De Villiers said.
“To come through a session like that, playing against some of the best bowlers in the world was amazing.
“Once we got used to the pace of the deck, and realised it wasn’t turning that much, we rotated the strike well and started to pick up boundaries.”
De Villiers praised Mohammad Irfan, who took the first two wickets, off the first two balls of the match and said the team would look at ways of playing him in the final match on Sunday.
“He’s a quality bowler and a threat, especially with the new ball, but so is Dale Steyn, so you can’t say Irfan was the difference between the two sides.
“He has caused us some trouble and we have to respect that and find a way to get through him on Sunday to post a big total.”
Man of the match for his 80 runs, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Huq said he was proud of his team for coming through in the end as it got closer than he would have liked at the end.
“When a game is crucial, it adds a little bit of pressure and it can make you nervous,” Misbah said.
“Once I got out, there was a little bit of panic but with Shoaib Malik there at the end, we knew he was a good batter and we could relax a bit.”
He could not comment on the decision by third umpire Billy Bowden which saw opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez given out for obstructing the field.
It was the first time, in an international match, that a wicket had fallen in this manner since Law 37 was amended in October 2011.
“I can’t say anything about it but when a wicket falls like that, it is obviously a psychological setback for the team,” he said.
“We had to put it behind us and focus on the way forward and it made us more determined to win.” – Sapa