Unforced errors cost us dearly: de Villers
Chasing a mammoth 332, South Africa fought hard to keep themselves in the match before losing to India by 26 runs in the opening fixture of ICC Champions Trophy 2013.
Proteas skipper AB de Villiers, however, lauded his team’s resolve given that they had to deal with Dale Steyn’s absence and Morne Morkel’s injury while countering an in-form Indian line-up. After their bowlers bouncing back to restrict India to 331, the South African batsmen too played valiantly to take their side past 300.
Speaking about the SA innings wherein there were times when it looked like the target could be achieved, de Villiers said, “Yes, that is the reason I am hurting, and that is why I am quite disappointed with what happened here today. After being down and out in the first 50 overs, beyond the eight ball, to restrict them to 330 was first of all a great effort. And then to get ourselves into a winning position was even better.”
“Unfortunately, there were a couple of run outs and unforced errors; but I take a lot of positives out of this game. I am not going to sulk too much. We will try to learn from our mistakes, and we have got a massive game against Pakistan. We have played them a lot in the recent past, and we know the areas we are going to attack.”
Asked about the unforced errors against Team India, the South Africa captain explained, “The couple of run outs were probably unforced and due to miscommunication. In the heat of battle sometimes you are so eager to do well for your team and you are just not always on the same wavelength as your partner at the other side. Unfortunately, there were a couple of misunderstandings out there, which is understandable sometimes under pressure and in the heat of battle. But it was unforced and cost us dearly today, unfortunately.”
Speaking about the Indian bowling, he said, “They did not show a lot of aggression, but I thought they did not bowl too badly. We got off to a flier. I thought we had the upper hand then. It is difficult to give a lot of credit when you are playing better than the opposition. I think we had 77 in the first 10 overs, so we played quite well. But still I have seen a lot of them in the recent past, in the IPL; I have seen them bowling really well. There is a lot of talent in the Indian seam bowling attack.”
Talking about India opener Shikhar Dhawan, he said, “Shikhar and I played with Delhi Daredevils. I know his game quite well; he is a very talented individual. He played really well today. He has got the whole package, and I am sure he will get better as his career goes on. He is a good player, and unfortunately, we could not get him out at the right time today. But that is not where we went wrong.”
Speaking about his team’s overall effort, de Villiers said, “I was very proud of the way the boys fought back, especially after losing Morne Morkel. It was a great fightback and the energy was high throughout.”
“We didn't get a lot of opportunities for run outs and things like that. But every time I connected with the team, the energy, intent and their awareness was there,” he added.
Asked if the overcast conditions had influenced his decision to bowl first, de Villiers said that he would have done so regardless of the weather. “We just had a look at the stats and the past scores and stuff like that, whether it was cloudy or not, we still would have bowled first. I was expecting a little bit more from the wicket and a bit more movement up front, which we did not get,” he explained.
“Then again losing Morne Morkel in the middle overs was quite a big shock, but the way the boys shot back right to the 50 overs was a great effort. I thought we restricted them to a chaseable score, and unfortunately, we just could not get there,” he added.
Discussing their bowling concerns in the absence of two key pacers – Steyn and Morkel – de Villiers said, “It will be a big loss not to have them here. But I'm pretty sure the staff and management team will get both of them on the field and in the next game, hopefully. If not, hopefully the last game. But we will assess things tomorrow.”
Speaking about their next match against Pakistan, he said, “We are definitely going there to win. We will have to keep that aggressive mindset that we had today. It is basically do-or-die. We would like to win at least two out of the three. When you go one out of three, net run-rate and things like that coming into play. We would not like to have that.”
“Each game we play here, we have to try to win. It is a short tournament. There is no room for errors, except for today, and we will try to repair that in the next game and go for a big one,” de Villiers said.