Sport

Cricket: AB praises his rookie charges

By Ant Sims 12 March 2013

AB de Villiers had nothing but praise for his relatively inexperienced attack, following their thumping victory over Pakistan on Sunday. There’s a rather long gap now before the two sides meet again, and it’s crucial for the Proteas to carry this momentum into Friday’s clash. By ANT SIMS.

A rookie South African attack, with just over 100 caps between them, helped South Africa to a convincing 125-run victory over Pakistan in the first one-day international attack on Sunday. While it did boast with some experienced hands like Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Robin Peterson, a number of inexperienced players kept the hosts in control and helped guide them to victory with relative ease.

One-day captain AB de Villiers had nothing but praise for his side who, in the absence of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, cruised home with relative ease.

“I think they bowled really well as a unit,” De Villiers said after the match. “There was no leader, obviously Lopsy has played the most, but all four seamers had a maturity about them today.”

Tsotsobe certainly didn’t stand out, and while he is currently ranked fifth according to the ICC’S ODI player rankings, he didn’t carry the air of a leader on Sunday. He can be devastatingly effective with the new ball, but Tsotsobe seemingly needs a senior partner up front to assume that responsibility.

For De Villiers, that notion was irrelevant – he stuck to the plan. The skipper also said he was happy to see his team moving forward and standing up to what was expected of them in high-pressure situations.

“You could see they bowled to their plans and their fields; Morne wasn’t considered for this game so Dale is the only player that is out of the side, otherwise we would be a full-strength attack. This is our team moving forward and the way the bowlers stood up and showed maturity was very pleasing.”

Ryan McLaren and Rory Kleinveldt were the two stand-out players with the ball in hand. Kleinveldt bagged four for 22, while McLaren picked up three for 19, including the prize scalp of Misbah-ul-Haq. McLaren often blows hot and cold, but he was very impressive on Sunday, particularly with the use of his variation, including the bouncer. The all-rounder has put in some good performances in his last two ODIs and De Villiers said he was pleased to see the 30-year old bounce back after a difficult time in England.

“I have always seen him as a world-class bowler since playing against him at high school level and domestically. He has been a fighter in every game that I have played against him. It’s tough to get the ball away. He struggled in the UK and I wasn’t sure where that came from but to see him come through like that now is pleasing.”

McLaren also struggled in the second ODI against New Zealand, but produced a match-winning performance in the final ODI with both bat and ball, and seems to have found his niche in the current Protea set-up – for the time being, anyway.

Colin Ingram also answered his critics when he hit an unbeaten 105 and shared a 120-run third wicket stand with De Villiers to propel the team to a total of 315.

“We had great energy; I thought it was a game-changer there,” he said about the run-a-ball stand. “We hustled between deliveries and ran between the wickets really well.

“We showed intent but also showed two good brains out there. We both played the spinners really well but Colin impressed me by his all-round play today; it was easy for me to bat with,” the skipper concluded.

The performance against was a far cry from the nervy matches against New Zealand, and with the Champions Trophy now just five matches away from the Proteas, they will be eager to take all the momentum they can get to the tournament.

But first they must focus on the immediate task at hand: winning the series against Pakistan. South Africa has been prone to starting off a one-day series with a banging before disintegrating into a puff of smoke, and with a significant break until the next match, which will be played on Friday, the team has to be careful not get caught napping when the next challenge comes knocking. DM

Photo: Pakistan”s Nasir Jamshed (2nd L) reacts after being caught out by South Africa’s Graeme Smith during their One day international cricket match in Bloemfontein, March 10, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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