De Villiers: Will Find A Way To Win

17/03/2015 8:17 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
South African captain AB de Villiers speaks at a press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground ahead of the 2015 Cricket World Cup quarter-final match between Sri Lanka and South Africa in Sydney on March 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-- (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

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By G Rajaraman

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South Africa captain AB de Villiers insisted he has not often thought about the tag of chokers being associated with his team. "All I can say is we're not going to choke. We're just going to play a good game of cricket on Wednesday and come out on top. Simple," he said on the eve of their ICC Cricket World Cup quarterfinals against Sri Lanka here.

"The guys are very aware of what's happening and where we're at in this tournament. Part of the reason why we took today off and just played a few games in the park and just had a good time and a laugh and just felt each other out a little bit. We know exactly what's coming tomorrow," he said.

"It's exactly what we've been working for the last two to three years. We're very prepared for this. Yeah, just ready to go. Obviously there's history to be made, and if we do come through this, it'll be great. But we know it's important to come out there and just to focus on the basics and do a few things right in order to win. All our focus will be on that,"" de Villiers said.

"I think it's partly my responsibility as a captain to lead the way that I want the boys to go out there, the way that I show energy together with a few senior players around me and the language we use, the kind of energy we show when we walk out, the things we do and the way we lead I think will make it easy for the rest of the guys to follow," he said.

"I really believe that a few of the senior players and I know how to play these kind of games in the pressure situations. We've done it before, and there's no reason why we can't do it tomorrow, and it's a matter for the rest of them to follow. We'll have a few chats tonight," de Villiers said.

"We've got Mike Horn here. He brings great energy to the team. He'll have a bit of a chat to us about he had a chat to the Germans who won the FIFA World Cup not long ago, things that worked for them. We can maybe a learn a little bit from that. Other than that, I've got to lead by example as a captain, and I believe the guys will follow."

He said the team did not mind the focus on the predecessors never having won a World Cup knockout game. "We don't mind putting focus on that. We haven't focused on that because I don't think it's important to focus on what's happened in the past. I believe it's most important for us to be fresh as a cricket team tomorrow and play a good game of cricket.

We've just got to find a way to win tomorrow. That's my main message to the guys, and I really believe we're ready for that.

"Personally I haven't put a lot of emphasis on what happened in 1999 and 2003, 2007. What's important is we play quarterfinals of the World Cup tomorrow. There's a lot of different things that we believe in in this cricket team that maybe was different in the past. We can't focus on what happened back in the day. We just can work with what we have right now. I'm the captain of the team and I want to lead by example, and I believe the guys will follow," he said.

"We'll try and keep it simple on this team. We're really a bunch of good guys; we're locked in. We really enjoy each other's company. We had a wonderful team dinner last night, had a nice laugh. There's enough laughing, there's enough stress, there's enough nerves, there's good cricket, there's enough bad cricket. We've got a mixture of everything on the team. We've just got to find a way to win tomorrow. That's my main message to the guys, and I really believe we're ready for that."

Excerpts from his interaction with the media:

On why the team didn't train on Tuesday:

I'm really comfortable with where the team is at, with the form that everyone has shown. I just felt it was important not to focus too much on cricket today, sort of get the brain switched off a little bit before the big clash tomorrow. It's important for us to be fresh. I believe we play really good cricket when we feel fresh and we are mentally fresh and we just play those special situations so much better. That was our thinking, well, beyond today, and I believe we're ready enough. Full confidence in all the players to perform tomorrow.

On South Africa's approach to the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka:

I think we've just got to try and play a good game of cricket. I think it's important to sort of play, to focus on what we've been doing well and try and do that tomorrow. We have certain strengths that we like to focus on, and not focus too much on the opposition. So yeah, I feel we've just got to focus on what we've been doing well and try and do that on Wednesday. That's as simple as possible. Strike with a new ball, try and bowl them out, and if we bat first, try and get a big total and put them under pressure.

On if he believed South Africa have been inconsistent:

I don't believe we've been awful in this tournament. I feel we've had a pretty decent tournament so far, finished second in the league. We had a tough game against India where things could have been different, I believe, and that's about it. Other than that, we've played some good cricket. Against Pakistan I wasn't too upset about that except for the fact that we didn't show enough on the batting end but bowled exceptionally well; very, very happy with the bowling performance. Other than that, we're in a very good space as a cricket team. We have to win on Wednesday. We're pretty much on the track that we'd like to be. No one is going to ask us if we played exceptional cricket when we win the World Cup, we're just going to say that we won the Cup, so we're just going to find a way to win the game tomorrow.

On his captaincy and tactics:

I thought I was quite confident and aggressive when it comes to that. No, I captain on instinct. I follow my gut feel. When we're in the field I like to think of and put myself in the situation of what I would do as a batsman, and I feel I have a pretty good gut feel when it comes to that. That's it. I make the best decision for the team. If it doesn't come off, I've learnt; if it does, then great captaincy. Simple as that.

On the match being hyped up as a game between Kumar Sangakkara and himself

To be very honest, and I hope you don't take it in the wrong way, I couldn't care less about him or me. I just want to win the game of cricket tomorrow. If it's our No. 11 batsman that wins us the game, so be it. I just want to find a way to win.


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