Proteas must deliver in Sri Lanka – AB

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Proteas captain AB de Villiers says they're going to concentrate on the basics in Sri Lanka. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

Johannesburg – AB de Villiers is irritated with the South African one-day side’s continuing search for consistency – whether it be in terms of selection or achieving results.

De Villiers left with the South African side on Sunday night to Sri Lanka for five One Day-Internationals, with consistency very much a watchword, though one De Villiers would prefer wasn’t being used. “We are all a bit tired of using that word consistency, we use it a hell of a lot.

“It is an area we need to improve. We probably need to take a few steps back and make sure we do the basics bloody well – that is very important in a place like Sri Lanka.

“We have to find a rhythm as a team together and I’m sure the consistency will come,” said De Villiers.

From a results perspective, South Africa’s achievements have certainly lacked consistency – they’ve won 15 and lost 12 of their last 29 ODIs. Team selection has also been somewhat inconsistent, though in that regard, South Africa’s new coach, Russell Domingo, believes the broader player base which has resulted from handing out a few new caps in the last two seasons may yet prove valuable.

What De Villiers and Domingo want out of this tour to Sri Lanka is for a clearer picture to emerge about the top order batting and for some of the newer bowlers to establish themselves in the side. At the same time, a series win in a country where South Africa has struggled – having won just one of 11 ODIs against the Sri Lankans in that country – will serve as a major confidence booster for the players and the new coaching staff.

“We’ve started something nice, and we’d really like to take some big steps forward looking at the World Cup.

“But for now, it’s a big series in Sri Lanka. A couple of series wins there will be very good for our confidence and a big step in the right direction.”

South Africa also play three T20 Internationals after the ODIs and, much like De Villiers, Faf du Plessis also wants a series win with an eye on the next T20 World Cup in Bangladesh next April.

Both the limited overs teams have some question marks over the top order batsmen. However, De Villiers and Du Plessis are at least clear about their own roles – De Villiers will open in the T20s and bat at No4 in the ODIs.

“I am the No4 batsman,” said De Villiers. “We’ve played around with that in some games due to circumstances but I think it would be wise, in the future, to be more constant about where I bat and we’ll see more of that in the games ahead.”

A newish bowling line-up will also be under the microscope in conditions which many of them are unfamiliar with.

A lot, naturally, will depend on South Africa’s spin options with Robin Peterson and Aaron Phangiso carrying those responsibilities in the ODIs, while Peterson will step aside for Imran Tahir in the T20s.

Taking lessons from their exit in the Champions Trophy recently, De Villiers says a particular emphasis will be placed on dealing with pressure situations.

“When the big moments presented themselves in the semi-final against England, we were found wanting and got done under pressure. We have to get better in the pressure situations and start winning those pressure situations,” said De Villiers. – The Star


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