Johannesburg - South Africa's national cricket coach Russell Domingo on Monday defended his team's tactical approach in the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh, saying AB de Villiers is "an impact player" who needs the game to be set up for him.
South Africa bowed out of the competition at the semi-final stage, beaten by six wickets with five balls remaining by India, but faced criticism in some quarters for their tactics, especially their decision to bat De Villiers at number five and only give Dale Steyn one over in the first 14 overs.
"AB is an impact player and the stats show - not just for South Africa but also in the IPL - that he's more dangerous when the game has been set up for him. He doesn't have the same game as Virat Kohli. He's batted [at] three with limited success.
"But it's not about the number he bats, it's about the situation when he comes in. If he walks out in the first over, I don't think that's a great time for him to bat. But if there's been a good start, then that's a great time for him to bat.
"But if we have a 13-over partnership, then there's criticism that AB's coming in too low. People seem to want our players to get out, so AB can come in," Domingo said.
De Villiers' one notable innings at the ICC World T20 came in their last group match against England when he came in at number three in the 11th over, after an opening partnership of 90 between Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, and blazed 69 not out from 28 balls.
In his other innings, he came in at four in the 11th over against Sri Lanka and scored 24 off 16; at four in the sixth over against New Zealand and made five off six balls; at four in the fifth over against the Netherlands and scored a run-a-ball 21; and in the semi-final, he came in at five in the 14th over and made just 10 off eight deliveries.
The coach said the decision to hold Steyn back in the semi-final was due to batsmen having an extremely attacking mindset later in the innings.
"Dale can only bowl four overs and we need him the middle and at the end of the innings. We also need to set up the six-over powerplay up front as best as we can, but we can't bowl Dale one up front, just one in the middle and two at the death.
"So we decided we'd rather have guys like JP Duminy bowling at the start in the less-pressured overs and he only went for seven in the first over against New Zealand, while Dale went for 17 in the first over against Sri Lanka. But the fifth and sixth overs are the most attacking," Domingo said.
Domingo said overall he was "not displeased" by the way his team had performed.
"You're always judged on your last game, but I felt we played some really good cricket in the tournament. In those conditions, probably the two best sides [Sri Lanka and India] made the final, but we were quietly confident going in.
"We've generally played good T20 cricket in the last year. We have a good playing strategy, we got to number two in the world, so there's a definite upward trend. We lost the Australian series because we got beaten in a seven-over game and then played badly in the other match, but we had success in Pakistan and we beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka."