Expect New Zealand to engage in sledging: A. B. de Villiers

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Auckland March 23 (IANS) South African skipper A.B. de Villiers believes there will be on-field sledging as they will be “expecting the unexpected” from a formidable New Zealand side in the semi-finals of the cricket World Cup at Eden Park on Tuesday.

“New Zealand is normally a gentlemanlike team to play against, but sometimes they do come out and go for what they want, and we’re expecting that,” de Villiers said at the pre-match media conference on Monday.

“We’re expecting the unexpected. In knockout games things don’t always go your way. In World Cups they don’t always go your way. Whatever gets thrown at us tomorrow, I believe we have the right personnel to deal with that.”

The Proteas will be spoilt for choice choosing their third seamer as they will have both Kyle Abbott and Vernon Philander to pick from, which the skipper believes will be a tough decision to take.

“Yeah, a difficult selection for us. Well, the whole squad is ready to go, and there are a few boys that have put up their hands in the World Cup, so it’s difficult.

“It’s really difficult, especially after a win like the last one. It’s tough to change the squad and the team that played. But we might have to have a look at a couple of combinations, a couple of possibilities that might strengthen our team,” he said.

Asked what makes him confident about the match, given South Africa’s history of choking in big games in the quadrennial event, he said: “Yeah, there has been a lot of emphasis on our past and South Africa not doing well at World Cups. We don’t mind that too much.”

“I’ve gone through the whole package of feeling emotional about it, fighting against it, then accepting it, then fighting again. Honestly I’m not putting emphasis on that at this World Cup at all.”

He said his team is confident and are approaching the crunch match with a positive frame of mind.

“I’m the guy who’s got to answer those questions, and I don’t mind doing that, but I know the squad is in a really good space, and once again I’m going to say that sentence of knowing that if we play a good game of cricket we’ll come out on top.

“We’re that confident in our abilities as a cricket team. I’m really focused about things like getting each player in a good space, and I believe they are,” he said.

“Like I said, we’ve been through a lot of hardship in the past with our World Cup games, but we feel very fresh and ready for tomorrow and very excited.”

The skipper also added they have learnt valuable lessons from the group stage defeat to Pakistan and would not like to repeat the same against New Zealand.

“We definitely learnt some valuable lessons in that game. I was personally very disappointed with that loss. But having looked back now and reflected, I don’t think anything over 230 has ever been chased on here in an ODI,” the skipper remarked.

“It maybe not a bad thing to notice little things going into the semi-finals, the way to go about it, not to panic when you lose a couple of wickets early or whatever happens.”

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