‘There won’t be any choking’

2012-09-29 17:37

Proteas captain AB de Villiers believes his side has it in them to conquer the ‘C’ word.

The Proteas are not about to choke just yet, according to captain AB de Villiers.

Besides needing to avoid ICC World Twenty20 elimination from old foes Australia at the R Premadasa Stadium today, South Africa know how the dreaded “C” word loomed large as the strong tournament favourites faced yet another major tournament failure.

The cause for panic was the back-foot start to their tough Group F Super Eight campaign, with the narrow loss to Pakistan on Friday, while the Aussies notched up an emphatic win over India in the latter match.

Like the much-missed biltong in this part of the world, the Indians will be as tough to chew on Tuesday in the likely decider should the Proteas manage to get a result that keeps them alive this afternoon.

However, De Villiers believed in a strong rebuttal from his charges, saying he saw motivation in the defeat, when the South Africans bounced back after a poor start against the Pakistanis.

“A lot of people will say we ‘choked’ but I thought we did well and gave ourselves a chance to compete (against Pakistan), and can only get better from here,” he said.

“If we can play to our best, we will win the next two matches and then we are in the semifinals. There won’t be any ‘choking’ from there, I’m sure.”

While it is not all doom and gloom for the Proteas, there will be added caution from the Australians, who have prospered in the last two weeks after being overlooked as potential contenders.

And being the great hunters they are, they will go all out to secure a semifinal spot, led in performance by their inspirational all-rounder Shane Watson.

For De Villiers, his trusted top order trio of Richard Levi, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis will have to stand up and be counted.

They failed against Pakistan as his side struggled to 133/6 after opting to bat first.

“We didn’t start off well with the bat, and were staring down the barrel. But our heads were held high when we walked off on Friday,” he said.

“I’m still comfortable with them (the top order batsmen), and they have played well of late, but unfortunately we didn’t come through against Pakistan,” De Villiers said.

South Africa’s bowling attack will need to continue leading from the front, especially the seam attack on a Colombo wicket that offers little to them.

At some point, the Proteas had the 2009 champions on the ropes at 76/7 in the 15th over, before a late Umar Gul blitz floored the Proteas.

The finish was poor from South Africa as well as some decision-making from De Villiers himself in the dying moments, when he opted for an erratic Albie Morkel instead of off-spinner Johan Botha.

“We are under pressure,” De Villiers admitted, “against Pakistan we were below par, but we still competed.”

The semifinal will be on Thursday and Friday, and the final is set for next Sunday, with all matches being played
at the R Premadasa Stadium.

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