SA skipper not looking too far ahead

Hashim Amla
Hashim Amla

AB de Villiers refuses to look further down South Africa’s World Cup road than the next game.

“Pakistan in Auckland on Saturday is our next game,” De Villiers said yesterday when asked whether he had wondered who his team’s quarterfinal opponents might be.

“We wouldn’t like to touch on what is going to happen too far in the future. I’ve encouraged the boys not to watch a lot of cricket – other cricket. We’re focused on playing Pakistan on Saturday.”

Behind De Villiers and his team lay yesterday’s 201-run hammering of Ireland, at Manuka Oval in Canberra. Ahead of them was the Pakistan match.

But, on Sunday, after Australia and Sri Lanka clash in Sydney, they could know who they will play in the final four.

If the Aussies win, South Africa are likely to meet Sri Lanka in Sydney. If Sri Lanka win, an AustraliaSouth Africa quarterfinal in Adelaide seems likely.

But De Villiers has enough to think about without getting into uncertainties.

Kyle Abbott, for instance, has bowled up a storm since replacing the injured Vernon Philander. He dismissed West Indian kingpins Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels cheaply in Sydney on Friday and claimed careerbest figures of 4-21 against the Irish yesterday.

But what happens when Philander regains his fitness?

“To have as many guys as possible in good form in a tournament like this is key,” De Villiers said. “Abbott plays with a lot of passion. You always know what you’re going to get from him.

“He is very easy to captain. But no one is guaranteed a place in the side.”

De Villiers was also satisfied with the performance of spearhead Dale Steyn, who had taken just one wicket each in three World Cup games, but showed more aggression yesterday to claim 2-39.

“I have full faith in him to win us a couple of games in this tournament,” De Villiers said.

“Steyn could have taken it easy, we had 400 on the board. But he ran in with pace an intensity and gave his all against a team he did not have to.”

The Proteas’ total of 411-4 was anchored by a second-wicket stand of 247 between Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis.

Amla scored 11, 22 and 65 in his first three innings in the tournament. Yesterday, the “rock” – as skipper De Villiers described Amla – banked 159, his highest one-day score.

“Nobody can score runs all the time, unless your name is Don Bradman or AB de Villiers,” Amla said.

De Villiers, whose 162 not out off 52 balls against the West Indies was the fastest one-day hundred yet scored in Australia, was out for 24.

But with his batting unit, that did not bother him.

-Telford Vice

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