PREVIEW: Proteas confident ahead of Pakistan clash today – de Villiers

BY MARC JACOBSON - JUNE 7, 2017
PREVIEW: Proteas confident ahead of Pakistan clash today – de Villiers

The Proteas are taking their marks to set for their second Group B ICC Champions Trophy encounter against Pakistan at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon (14:30 SA time).

South Africa relinquished a steady start to the competition after overcoming Sri Lanka on Saturday, and will be shoring some confidence-boosting ascendency ahead of their final group-deciding game against India on Sunday, with a stern win over the unpredictable Pakistanis in Birmingham.

With rain affecting at least half of the Champs Trophy matches so far, Proteas captain AB de Villiers emphasized that his team will be focusing on what they can control.

“The rain is something we can't control. We can only control what's in front of us and that's to play good cricket, to make sure we're prepared, and we've covered all those bases,” de Villiers told the media ahead of their clash against Pakistan.

In their last clash against Pakistan, South Africa were beaten by 29 runs (D/L  Method) in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, but in their last Champs Trophy match-up, the Proteas got the better of the result, winning it by 67 runs in 2013.

The current ICC world’s number one-ranked South Africa, are one of the certain favourites for lifting the trophy this year, but have not touched silverware since 1998 when Hansie Cronje’s charges won the very first Champs Trophy.

De Villiers says he feels confident ahead of the clash, without being ‘arrogant or over-confident.’

“We played a really good first game of the tournament and we did the basics really well, so we will be focusing on that.”

“We don’t feel the pressure, we feel like it’s an opportunity once again to shift the pressure onto all the opposition that we might face. We are very prepared and all plans are in place,” de Villiers said.

In South Africa’s line-up for the tournament, they have number one and two-ranked bowlers at their disposal (Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir), as well as four batsmen in the top 10 ODI batsmen rankings (de Villers 1st, Quinton de Kock 4th, Faf du Plessis 6th and Hashim Amla 10th).

For this, de Villiers said that they do not only have one or two ‘secret weapons’, but that the whole collective are there to contribute to the side’s prospects.

“All 15 players that are here fit into this puzzle of ours really nicely and it’s a nice team to work with, there are lots of options for myself and the coach to try out, but we have a fair idea of what we are trying to do over here.”

“I think all 15 have the potential to be match-winners, some a little more than others, and Kagiso [Rabada] definitely deserves his number one spot, and he will definitely be here and there about in this tournament,” de Villiers concluded.

If South Africa can create a fine balance in mixing things up with their pacers and spinners on their bowling attacks, while maintaining their top-order wickets in batting, which they have often lacked recently, the Proteas should win even on a slight off day.

The likes of JP Duminy, Wayne Parnell and Chris Morris also add a good turnover as all-rounders in the mix, and if them, along with the specialists, can get the team balance right, then South Africa could be well-imposing moving forward.

Head-to-head against Pakistan, the Proteas have played a total 72 ODI’s in their history, with South Africa winning 47 and losing 24, while one being a no result.