TELFORD VICE at Eden Park
BOTH New Zealand and South Africa lacked consistency in their one-day series, but AB de Villiers couldn’t complain about his team’s performance in that department in the deciding match of the rubber on Saturday.
Not that he had reason to criticise any aspect of South Africa’s six-wicket win, which was achieved with 17.4 overs to spare to seal their sixth victory in the eight ODI series they have played since the 2015 World Cup.
The match was all but decided when South Africa dismissed New Zealand for 149 in 41.1 overs.
“We put a lot of pressure on New Zealand and got wickets at the right time, and we were on the money for the duration of our fielding session,” De Villiers said.
“It was a tricky total to chase but Faf (du Plessis, who scored 51 not out) and David (Miller, who made an unbeaten 45 and shared a stand of 62 with Du Plessis) made it quite easy at the the end.”
De Villiers was particularly satisfied with his bowlers, who have dismissed their opponents nine times in their last 15 ODIs.
“We’ve bowled teams out consistently in the last 10 to 15 ODIs, which is a great sign,” De Villiers said.
“We don’t have four or five seamers all bowling at around 145 (kilometres per hour) but we have a great variety of seamers that can bowl really well together with (leg spinner) Imran (Tahir) who mixes it up and is a strike bowler in his own right.”
Kagiso Rabada, who took 3/25 and finished the series as the leading bowler in either team in terms of wickets, average and economy rate, was a key part of South Africa’s bowling success.
South Africa will back Rabada to also play a prominent role in their Champions Trophy campaign in England in June, which will follow the test series against the Kiwis – which starts in Dunedin on Wednesday – and three ODIs against England.
“If the Champions Trophy was tomorrow we’ll be ready, but we will apart from each other for quite a while now,” Rabada said.
“We will get back together when its closer to the time and get going from where we left off – that’s going to be important.
“But I feel we are going in the right direction.”
De Villiers, too, had the Champions Trophy in mind.
“I truly believe we are ready (for the tournament),” he said.
“It would be silly for me to say, ‘Yes, we are going to win it’.
“I believe that in my heart but no-one is going to make silly statements like that.
“I think we are ready, so if all things go well I think we will be there at the end of the tournament.”
South Africa have yet to reach the final of a World Cup, Champions Trophy or World T20.