Sri Lanka in SA

AB backs Smith to hit form

2012-01-15 23:09
AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)

East London - Proteas ODI captain AB de Villiers said his team's second win over Sri Lanka was a sterner test of his abilities.

De Villiers said he had to work harder for his money after their effortless victory in Paarl earlier in the week.

"It was definitely a bigger test for me this time around," said De Villiers.

"It was frustrating at times and really tough but I learned a lot from this game."

De Villiers said he had to think on his feet and select the right bowlers to contain the Sri Lankans towards the end of their innings.

"Things started happening quickly but I thought our bowlers did really well," he said.

"We can still improve in the field and it's something to work on for the next game."

Commenting on the dullness of the match, with South Africa coasting to a five-wicket win, De Villiers said the pitch in East London had required plenty of patience.

"It dragged a little bit but we kept our concentration really well through the middle overs.

"It was one of those wickets where patience was needed and we showed it really well."

Selection convenor Andrew Hudson said Hashim Amla, who made a century in the first ODI and 55 in the second, would miss the rest of the series as his wife was due to give birth to their first child.

De Villiers, however, said there was enough depth in the country to get by without the opener in the short term.

"Hash will be missed as he's in such good form at the moment but hopefully we will clinch the series in his absence," the skipper said.

"He's a rock up front but we have a lot of talent in South Africa."

Test opener Alviro Petersen was recalled as a replacement for Amla.

Jacques Kallis, meanwhile, was also withdrawn from the squad in order to rest, while Rory Kleinveldt returned home with an injury.

Seam bowler Vernon Philander was recalled, Cricket SA announced on Sunday morning, along with batsman Colin Ingram.

While Graeme Smith had not been making runs lately, De Villiers backed the former ODI captain, insisting he still played a huge role in the side.

Smith, who made 28 in East London, has not made a century in his last 33 ODI innings.

"Graeme is a huge factor in our team and plays a big part in almost everything," De Villiers said.

"He may not be scoring huge runs in every game at the moment, but he's a match winner for us and I back him to return to form soon."

The Sri Lankans were suffering an even worse fate as their three top batsmen - Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene - had not done justice to their reputations.

"Sanga, Mahela and I are not in good form and if two of us can come to the party, that will be fantastic," said captain Dilshan.

"We can take some positives out of this game but while I'm happy with our improved performance, overall, it's disappointing.

"If we can lift ourselves by another 10 or 15 percent for the next one, it can be a good game."

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