AB de Villiers feels his team still has room to improve
South Africa’s 20-run win over New Zealand in the first one-day international (ODI) match in Centurion was not convincing enough for skipper AB de Villiers, reports ESPNcricinfo. A game of many dropped chances, the South African fielding unit considered the best in the world looked almost comical.
The match looked a lot closer than it actually was, New Zealand was all but out of the chase by the 30th over after Veron Philander picked up the prized wickets of Grant Elliot and Tom Latham, but the New Zealand’s pair of James Neesham and Colin Munro put up a 71-run partnership to give some hope.
"The kind of intensity and the Proteas fire that we always talk about was lacking tonight," De Villiers said. "If we had that kind of energy tonight, it would have been a walkover and it wasn't. New Zealand were in the game and if you let quality sides in the game, they tend to win."
The Proteas batted brilliantly in the first innings with Hashim Amla scoring an almost run a ball hundred, and equaled the record for most number of hundreds by a South African which he now shares with Herschelle Gibbs. South Africa came out even stronger in the second innings, with Dale Steyn creating three chances in his first over. One of his first ball and the other two chances were grassed. "That sums up the way we were sort of lackadaisical in the field today," De Villiers added.
There were a few more dropped chances, with balls flying high in the air and dropping into vacant spaces. De Villiers said he hopes that the team fielding will get better as they are going through a transition with new players coming into the team. "I was a little but disappointed with our energy in the field as a unit, together. That probably comes with time. There were a couple new faces that need to get used to the way I captain and the way we operate as a team," the skipper said.
David Wiese who made his debut at his home ground did not seem totally comfortable as he was belted for 29 runs in his first three overs. But towards the death he came back with a wide range of slower balls which worked wonders. Kagasio Rabada, who had an amazing debut series against Bangladesh, is making himself a regular starter after that series, had a better economy than Steyn, and was preferred over Steyn in the death overs. "KG bowled well in spells. That potential and talent is definitely there; it just needs a little bit of experience. That's our responsibility to get that through to him," De Villiers further added.
Imran Tahir was the bowler who made the most difference in the slog overs as he controlled the flow of runs and also picked up 2 wickets at an economy of just 4 runs per over, and ensured New Zealand did not get a whiff at victory. "We were right in it all the way but we were never able to get in front of the game. The South African side bowled very well with the new ball and the class of Tahir in the middle was shown today," Williamson commented.
De Villiers agreed with Williamson saying "Immi is a master of that. He knows how to turn the momentum around, how to speed things up to slow things down." Tahir can also inject energy into a team, should De Villiers feels the need for it.