Johannesburg – Proteas captain AB de Villiers says the first ever One Day International (ODI) series win in Sri Lanka was an encouraging glimpse of the potential within the squad.
South Africa scored 339 for five batting first and bowled out the hosts for 257, for an 82-run win and with it a 2-1 series victory on Sunday.
The Proteas beat a strong Sri Lankan team at home, and in the process banished some psychological barriers in testing situations.
“It sends out a statement of what we can achieve as a team, not just for everyone out there but more importantly for ourselves,” De Villiers said after the match.
“In all kinds of sports you have to get the confidence going within before you can start proving people wrong or right. For me the biggest step was for us to start believing in ourselves as a team.”
De Villiers lauded the persistence from his troops.
“The difficult part was when the nonsense hit the fan, we didn't run away.
“We were there as a team sticking together and that is what it is all about.”
The Proteas move into second place on the ICC ODI Rankings, and continue to make important strides after securing an away series win against Pakistan, and a win against India at home.
“We came into this series knowing that we hadn't won one here before, so we knew that it would be a lot of hard work,” said De Villiers.
“Sri Lanka have been playing amazing cricket of late, winning the Asia Cup and then an away ODI Series in England and they seemed to be very hungry to keep raising that bar.
“We had a few heart-to-heart sessions and hard talks in between but ultimately it comes down to a lot of hard work.”
Opening batsman Quinton de Kock notched up his fifth ODI ton with a 127-ball 128 which set the Proteas on the way to their big total.
“Quinton today laid the foundation upfront, which allowed myself and a couple of other batsmen to express ourselves in the middle order.
“We were under the pump in the first 10 overs with the ball in hand and the way we came back pleased me a lot, all the hard work was worth it at the end of the day.”
De Villiers scored 108, bringing up three figures off just 66
balls, but was modest in his assessment of his own game.
“Succeeding under the pressure that was on us knowing that 300
would be a winning score was probably worth more,” said De Villiers.
“I felt like I still had too many dot balls and was looking for boundaries too often, in a perfect world obviously I would want less. I really enjoyed the innings, it was not my best but probably in my top five.”
The Test squad will travel to Galle on Sunday ahead of the opening match starting on Wednesday.
Alviro Petersen, Kyle Abbott, Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl and Dane Piedt will meet up with the squad in Galle on Sunday.
Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Aaron Phangiso, Beuran Hendricks and Jacques Kallis will travel back to South Africa on Sunday. – Sapa