New Zealand v South Africa, 5th ODI, Auckland March 4, 2017

'I truly believe we are ready for Champions Trophy' - de Villiers


While AB de Villiers admitted South Africa enjoyed getting their own back at Eden Park, he stressed there was more to the series win than just erasing bad memories. Victory in the decider has put the Champions Trophy firmly in South Africa's sights as they proved to themselves they can perform under pressure.

"There's a bit of emotion in us winning the series, especially chasing under pressure. We'll enjoy the victory. It doesn't make it right after we lost the semi-final. That will never change," de Villiers said. "But as we sit here now, we've just won a game against New Zealand in a final at Eden Park so it's a great feeling. We've come a long way since that semi-final."

South Africa have won seven of their nine series since the 2015 World Cup, including a one-off match against Ireland and a 5-0 whitewash over each of Australia and Sri Lanka this summer, and have hit a run of form that gives de Villiers hope that an ICC trophy is not far away.

"I felt ready [for the Champions Trophy] before this tour but this was a really good test for us. I truly believe we are ready," he said. "It will be silly for me to say yes we are going to win it even though I believe that in my heart, but no one is going to make silly statements like that. We are going there to win and I think we are ready, so if all things go well I think we will be there at the end of the tournament."

De Villiers is particularly pleased with South Africa's consistency with the ball - they have bowled their opposition out in 10 of their last 16 ODIs - and confidence with the bat, which he thought shone through on Saturday. Although South Africa were only chasing 150, the surface offered the bowlers a bit and things could have gone very wrong very quickly. South Africa were 48 for 3 and then 88 for 4, when de Villiers was dismissed, and they needed calm heads to get home.

Faf du Plessis' second half-century of the series and David Miller's 35-ball 45 got them there and showed de Villiers improvement in the way his team approaches chases. "Tonight was a great way to show everyone we can handle pressure, that we can cross the line in tight games with tricky totals and a really good bowling opposition who squeeze you very hard," he said. "All our batters showed a lot of positivity, which was great. In the past we fell into traps of being conservative and being stuck in a bubble when the pressure is on. We hit ourselves out of that with great body language and good skill throughout the innings. It's a great step in the right direction."

His pace spearhead, Kagiso Rabada agrees.

The 21 year old used exactly the same words to describe South Africa's position at the moment and also thinks they are ripe for major-tournament success, but Rabada's assessment came with a warning: the Champions Trophy is still three months away. "We are going in the right direction. If the Champions Trophy was tomorrow will be ready but, when we get to England, we will be apart from each other for quite a while," he said. "We will get back together when it's closer to the time and recuperate and then we need to get going from where we left off. That's going to be important."

That South Africa's major preparations for the Champions Trophy are complete long before the event could be considered super-efficient. It could also become a case of peaking too early, so their biggest challenge will be sustaining the momentum they have gathered so far.

What might assist them in that cause is the differing nature of their most recent series wins. South Africa have swung from complete domination over Sri Lanka to a seesaw contest against New Zealand, in which the advantage changed hands after every game. Rabada saw the value in both experiences and chances are the rest of the team did too.

"It was nice to beat Sri Lanka 5-0. It shows a clinical performance and attention to detail and then this one was really nitty gritty. Both of them have their pros and both have their own feelings," he said. "Beating a team 5-0 shows you are going into every game not being complacent, paying attention to the small things and professionalism. In a tight series, there's more pressure and we handled the pressure really well. Competition keeps you on your toes, so I enjoy both."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ash on March 6, 2017, 16:46 GMT

    AB seems to be trying to convince himself by using the 'alternative fact' method of truth by repetition. He is opting out of the England series in 2017 so that he can be ready for the World Cup in 2019!!?? England are no walkovers - does he honestly believe that losing Test series has no effect on the morale of the team? He seems to be staking everything on the 2019 WC, forgetting that there are no guarantees no matter what your form. Ask George Foreman! In addition, I see no talk of opting out of the IPL. Frankly, it would be better to retire now if he can't commit to his country.

  • Vinoth Kumar on March 5, 2017, 17:00 GMT

    @HERATH-UK,Yes, SL beat aus 3-0, but now aussies are playing well in india than expected. One of the reason they did their home work well in Dubai last month. Moreover, in which way SL will gain much more confidence from ind losing? First you understand and check the history, aus before last test series in sl many times beat sl in SL. Odi also you know they beat SL convincingly. If you take ind , they also beat SL in sl, but i havent seen sl win one test match in india in the recent years. Your comment try to say that SL better than IND, in that case its totally wrong or untrue. SL have to improve more, they lost test series to SA,IND in SL, Moreover their record outside home very poor. Ind in test cricket in home very strong than SL in their home. May be ind struggling in this series, but before this one they beat aus 4-0,2-0. But now aus different team playing with full of confidence,even if aus come to sl now, result will be different from last time. Let see how SL play in oval.

  • Brokensaint on March 5, 2017, 14:25 GMT

    faghmie that's a world class line up right there. That's a team that will win any cup

  • Ranil on March 5, 2017, 13:41 GMT

    Guys look at what is happening in India. Aussies were hammered 3/0 by inexperienced Sri Lanka & the world No one team full of confidence struggling against them. True we lost comprehensively in SA, but who is not these days. except SA. Sri Lanka will gain much more confidence seeing what is happening in India, have we not whitewashed them? True your game in Oval will be very interesting but as a Sri Lankan fan I've my confidence, you can understand well.

  • Vinoth Kumar on March 5, 2017, 10:33 GMT

    @RALF12, Any valid reason there to bring FAF as odi captain?. SA is doing well in ODI in AB captaincy consistently won,then Y you need change ? it seems like your comment meaningless. How can you say if FAF captain SA will win CT? Dont forget current nz series in AB captaincy won with inexp bowlers which was great achievement & milestone for AB in his captaincy period. He is done superbly,moreover he is playing amazingly. Your idea looks like 12 year old , so better to check the stats before comment like this.

  • faghmie murat on March 5, 2017, 10:31 GMT

    my 11 for champions trophy no quotas only merit will kock. de bruyn. ab.faf.miller. pretorius.phehlukwayo.ngidi.rabada.tahir

  • Ramesh on March 5, 2017, 6:58 GMT

    @Diri, i agree with your team, only if morris is not playing twice in that 12 man team :D

  • Paul on March 5, 2017, 4:54 GMT

    HERATH-UK - what you conveniently choose to forget is that the Australian team Sri Lanka played last month was a third string side. But why let the facts interfere with your little narrative?

  • Lindsay on March 5, 2017, 3:33 GMT

    AB talks too much. Not much thinking. Please bring Faf as captain. SA will not win CT with AB as captain and Duminy in team. This is the same as a 10 man team with a 12 year old as captain.

  • R on March 4, 2017, 22:51 GMT

    @Outside off... NZ always provide exciting matches. Personally, though, I feel that NZ were too light in batting. Don't think Ronchi is good enough to bat at No. 5.

    Waiting for an exiting test series.

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