Durban - The Proteas need to learn to win on any surface if they are to rise to the top of one-day international (ODI) cricket, captain AB de Villiers said on Wednesday.
“We’re playing at home so we would like to get bouncy and pacey tracks but, over the last few years, the wickets in South Africa have slowed up quite a bit so we have to deal with it,” De Villiers said ahead of the fourth ODI against Pakistan in Durban.
“If you want to become the top ODI team in the world - which is our eventual goal - we have to beat any team, on any wicket.”
South Africa lead the five-match series 2-1 and De Villiers said they would like to close out the series on Thursday.
“The wicket looks a bit drier than normal but you never know what you’ll get. If there is a bit of turn, we will have to adapt as quickly as possible and beat Pakistan at their own game.
“That kind of win would give me a lot more satisfaction than just beating the opposition on a bouncy and pacey track.”
De Villiers said he took a lot of pleasure from Sunday’s match at the Wanderers, in Johannesburg, which the Proteas won by 34 runs.
“We got the bad end of the toss and the ball was moving around for the first 10 overs, but it was a very flat wicket in the afternoon.
“It suited Pakistan well but we outplayed them there and we’re beating them by playing good cricket and doing the basics better than them."
Despite scoring a century and achieving a world record of 238 runs for the third wicket, batting with Hashim Amla, De Villiers said he actually enjoyed the fielding more.
“It was probably my best game as captain so far and I felt like I was more in control.
“To defend a total like that on a flat wicket was a great effort and I felt we had a presence and a drive to win, which gave me a lot of satisfaction.”
In the absence of Faf du Plessis, who has an inflammation in his lower back, Quinton de Kock has been roped into the squad, but De Villiers said it was unlikely he would play in Durban.
“If Quinton was going to play, we’d have to try and get him into the top three, where he’s used to playing in domestic cricket and where he’s made all his runs,” said the skipper.
“For this game, David Miller is next in line, so he will bat where he usually bats - at six. It’s a great opportunity for him to put his hand up. He’s a wonderful talent and, hopefully, he’ll come through in the remainder of the series.”
The Proteas were moving in a positive direction and the bowlers, in particular, had been coming up with clear game plans and sticking to them, De Villiers said.
“In the past, bowling the death overs was a worry for us, but now we’re managing it better.
“There is still room for an all-round improvement and we need to tweak a few things here and there, but we’re heading in the right direction for the Champions Trophy in June.”
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Huq was pleased with his side’s performance in Johannesburg but he admitted they needed to improve in all three departments.
“Every match is a must-win game for us, so this one will be no different. Our morale is good and everyone is confident,” Misbah said.
Umar Gul is not available through injury while Mohammad Irfan has been bowling in the nets after recovering from the stomach ailment which affected him in the previous game.