Proteas’ hard-earned win was special – De Villiers

2013-03-18 09:05

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The slow and difficult start to the Proteas’ innings made the win even sweeter, AB de Villiers said after South Africa’s 34-run victory against Pakistan yesterday.

“It wasn’t easy to bat during the first 10 to 15 overs and the wicket really assisted the bowlers,” De Villiers said after the Proteas took a 2-1 lead in the five-match one-day series.

“So to come back from that and to win the match made it all the more special to me.

“The way we fought back with the bat, and with the ball when we were under pressure, was amazing.”

De Villiers and Hashim Amla set a new world record for a third-wicket partnership in 50-over cricket, combining for 238 runs off 194 balls.

On the way to achieving their milestone, they each scored centuries with Amla making 122 and De Villiers 128.

“It’s always nice to bat with Hash and we took calculated risks at the right time. We both played according to our gut feel and we just sensed when it was the time to take it on,” De Villiers said.

“It wasn’t a conscious decision but after a ball or two went to the boundary, we realised it was an opportunity to take an eight-run over to a 15 or 20-run over and that always puts you in a good position.”

De Villiers said the intensity and the energy out on the field while they were batting was unbelievable and he felt quite drained afterwards.

“We sent a good message out to Pakistan after our body language showed we meant business.

“It’s the basics that make the difference at the end of the day, so I’m really proud of the partnership and the fact that we took it deep and then set it up nicely for Faf du Plessis and Farhaan Behardien to come in and express themselves.”

Setting a formidable target of 344, Pakistan set about their chase with equal intent and when Shahid Afridi came in at number seven, he played like a potential match winner, striking 88 runs off 48 balls.

He hit five boundaries and seven massive sixes, one of which bounced off the roof and out of the stadium.

“Afridi threatened to take the game away from us, but I knew we had enough skills to get him out eventually.

“It was an amazing knock and I had to force myself mentally not to get emotional about it. We were not bowling badly, he was just playing out of his skin.”

De Villiers said it was good to see Afridi live up to his reputation of being a big hitter and he enjoyed watching him.

“It was really good to see him back as he’s a great entertainer and it’s good for cricket. I’m chuffed for him but hopefully he won’t do it again in this series.”

Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Huq praised Afridi for his spectacular innings, which took the team total forward at a time when they needed to accelerate.

“It was a very important innings for Afridi and we knew he had it in him,” Misbah said.

“He can be really dangerous at number seven and today he regained his confidence and showed he can still be a fireball for us.”

Misbah felt there were still many positives to be taken out of the match, despite finishing on the wrong side.

“You need a positive mind-set to try and keep up with the required run rate and we did that today but sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” he said.

“All credit to De Villiers and Amla for the way they played. There was something in the pitch for the bowlers in the beginning so they just were hanging in there and then they played really well to cash in.”

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