Amla, de Villiers almost taken game away – Rudolph

Category : News

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers might well have batted Australia out of the Wanderers Test, according to South Africa opener Jacques Rudolph. The pair came together with South Africa having slipped to 90 for 3, effectively 60 for 3 because of their deficit, but their unbroken 139-run partnership has put South Africa in a winning position.

“When we lost the first three wickets upfront, you still felt a little bit like the game was balanced on a knife edge,” Rudolph said. “But I thought those two [Amla and de Villiers] almost took it away from the Australians.”

South Africa only need a draw to win the two-Test series and claim their first series win over Australia at home since readmission. However, Rudolph, as well as assistant coach Russell Domingo, said the team is still targeting a clean sweep of the visitors. They have been in discussion about what a comfortable enough lead would be.

“I was speaking to Jacques Kallis and he also said that if we get anything around 300, it’s a competitive score and the Aussies will still be in with a chance,” Rudolph said. “Around 350 or 400, will be a good score. Tomorrow morning we’ve got 11 overs before the second new ball, which might give Hashim and AB a chance to get in and set up another good one or two sessions.” Rudolph said South Africa hoped to be “bowling in the afternoon” to give themselves enough time to dismiss Australia.

Domingo said South Africa’s task will be to accumulate runs briskly on the fourth morning. “It’s a long way from looking at declarations. We know it’s generally a quick scoring ground here, so scoring runs tomorrow morning is going to be crucially important,” he said. “How much we set them and if we declare or don’t declare is not on anyone’s mind at the moment, it’s just to have enough to give us a good chance of winning the Test match.”

With the pitch remaining a good strip for batting, Domingo said South Africa cannot afford to “be stupid” about the size of the target they set Australia. “We have to give the bowlers enough runs to [be able to employ] carry a third slip and the gully,” he said. “At a place like the Wanderers, where scores can be chased down because of the nature of the outfield and the altitude, we’ve got to be clever about what type of carrot we are going to dangle, if we are going to dangle a carrot.”

Although the strip remains batsmen-friendly, something is also expected to be in it for the bowlers throughout the match. Rudolph said the result may hinge on which side have the more patient attack. “It [the track] has proven that if you just stick to the one area, there is enough in it for the bowlers. So it will come down to the bowler who will be willing to do that the most consistently.”

Australia’s bowlers, barring Patrick Cummins, struggled on the third day. Siddle bowled well but was unable to make a breakthrough, and Mitchell Johnson shortened his run-up without devastating effects. Shane Watson said the bowlers are aware that they will need to find some extra spark, because they do not expect a favour, in the form of a sporting declaration, from South Africa. “We’re going to have to bowl them out, there’s no way they are going to let us in,” he said. “If we were in the position they are in, we’d be doing the same thing.”

Watson said Australia will be up for the task, whatever it is. “If a few guys have a really good day, it means we can chase down a big total,” he said.

Wet weather may thwart both teams’ plans, with rain forecast for most of the fourth day. Domingo said South Africa have not been keeping an eye on the clouds, though, and will stick to their plan of playing positively. “Our mindset will be to look to win, not to depend on weather to save [win] a Test series.”

Source: ESPN CricInfo – November 19, 2011 / FIRDOSE MOONDA

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers put South Africa in command

Category : News

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers were closing in on centuries after batting South Africa into a strong position at the close of the third day of the second Test against Australia at Johannesburg.

Amla (89 not out) and De Villiers (70no) shared in an unbroken 139-run stand for the fourth wicket as the Proteas ended the day on 229 for three in their second innings – a lead of 199.

The pair helped stage a recovery after three wickets had fallen in the morning session of a day which started with a minute’s silence for South Africa-born former England all-rounder Basil D’Oliveira, who has died at the age of 80.

When the action started South Africa were quickly into their stride, with Jacques Rudolph hitting two fours in the second over off the bowling of Pat Cummins.

However, with an advantage of 10 runs overall, the hosts lost their first wicket in the eighth over of the innings, with the score on 40. Rudolph had made 24 when he top-edged the 23rd delivery he faced to Brad Haddin.

Graeme Smith looked in good touch, with successive boundaries off Peter Siddle in the 14th over taking the score on to 59 for one.

However, his partnership with Amla yielded just 16 more runs and ended when Smith (36) sliced a Nathan Lyon delivery to Phil Hughes at point.

Jacques Kallis struggled to make an impact and after making just two from 17 balls, his contribution was over when he edged Cummins to Michael Clarke at first slip, giving the paceman his second wicket and leaving South Africa just 60 runs ahead.

That dismissal brought De Villiers to the wicket and he and Amla averted further trouble from the remaining 10 balls of the session.

However, soon after the restart Amla survived a referral after a Cummins delivery hit him on the pad.

In the 37th over wicketkeeper Brad Haddin believed he had run out de Villiers and celebrated spectacularly – but television replays showed the batsman had comfortably made his ground.

That incident summed up the session for Australia, who were left frustrated as Amla and De Villers took control of events.

Their fifty partnership came up off 100 balls in the 44th over – and the next 50 runs took another 11 overs.

During the century stand, Amla brought up his 20th Test fifty, while De Villiers, who top-scored with 64 in South Africa’s first innings, collected his 25th.

Australia, who need to win this Test to draw the two-match series, had still not managed to find a way to separate the pair when the teams went off early for bad light, with stumps being called without the teams reappearing.

Source: The Guardian – November 19, 2011

AB full of good hope on way to Cape Town

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Proteas vice-captain AB de Villiers flew to Cape Town last night to join his teammates, hoping he can convince the selectors that he is fit to play against Australia in the first cricket test starting on Wednesday at Newlands.

The vice-captain is crucial to the South African middle-order which has failed to fire in the limited-overs matches this summer. He said last week he had fully recovered from surgery on the left hand he broke during the Champions League in September and yesterday he put that contention to the test in a match for the Titans, making only 12 but, more significantly, batting for 21 balls and fielding for just over 30 overs – and taking a catch.

“If I get through this game I will be ready for the first test,” De Villiers promised last Thursday and yesterday he gave no indication of rescinding the promise.

His return to the game yesterday came with a bit of cricket history, De Villiers becoming the first batsman to be given out for obstructing the field under the strict new rules governing one-day matches.

In the match against the Knights at Willowmoore Park, Ryan McLaren missed an attempt to run out De Villiers, but umpire Lubalalo Gcuma decided the batsman had obstructed the fielder.

The Titans’ last man in, Rowan Richards, was dismissed in a similar way as the team slumped to 158 all out, losing by nine wickets.

South Africa are not only agonising over the fitness of De Villiers, but also over the choice of spinners and a third seamer.

They haven’t had the usual, hot, early summer weather in Cape Town, so the Newlands pitch is not as hard as it could have been. It has been a little slow for the Cape Cobras matches there in the Supersport Series, but curator Evan Flynt prepared a good wicket for the recent T20 international and hopes for a surface that will provide a good balance between bat and ball over the five days starting on Wednesday.

Proteas fast bowler Dale Steyn will be eager for a hard wicket to start with, so that he can deliver on his apparent threat to Aussie opener Phil Hughes.

The Aussie press has been building up the test as a clash between the 22-year-old Aussie and the best bowler in the world. The first time Steyn had a go at Hughes was in the Aussie’s first test. He lasted just four balls at the Wanderers.

But he followed up that duck with scores of 75, 115, 160, 33 and 32. So it’s game on.

“I’m sure there is going to be a lot of short-pitched bowling,” Hughes told the Aussie media at the weekend.

Hughes made four and 19 in Australia’s match last week against South Africa A, falling to Vernon Philander, who made a strong case for selection ahead of rival seamers Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell.

Source: Times Live – November 7, 2011 / ARCHIE HENDERSON

AB’s return marred by obstruction

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Proteas limited overs captain AB de Villiers made a controversial return to the crease when he was dismissed for obstructing the field in a domestic cricket match in Benoni on Sunday.

De Villiers, playing his first game in six weeks after recovering from a broken hand, made 12 runs for the Titans in their One-day Cup game against the Knights.

After taking a run, De Villiers held his line, and Ryan McLaren missed with his attempt at the wickets.

Following some enthusiastic appeals by the Knights player, umpire Lubalalo Gcuma ruled that De Villiers was in the wrong, and sent him back to the change rooms.

Tail-ender Rowan Richards was also dismissed for obstructing the field as the Titans were bundled out by the visitors for 157 runs in 38.4 overs.

The Knights needed 158 runs to secure their first win of the competition.

Source: IOL.co.za – November 6, 2011

AB de Villiers declared fit for Australia Tests

Category : News

AB de Villiers, South Africa Test vice-captain, has been declared fit to play in the upcoming series against Australia. De Villiers has recovered from a hand injury sustained while training with Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Champions League T20 five weeks ago.

“I went to see the specialist and he was very happy with the recovery process,” de Villiers said in Johannesburg. “He said I’m 100% ready to go, so I will be joining up with the Titans tomorrow [Friday] morning for a full nets session.”

De Villiers missed out on the Twenty20 and ODI series against Australia, in which he was due to captain the side for the first time. With lack of match practice being a pertinent issue for South Africa, after the rusty showing during the limited-overs leg of the tour, de Villiers has taken measures to ensure he’s match-ready by playing for the Titans against the Knights in a One-Day Cup match on Sunday. “If I get through that game, I will be ready for the first Test match,” he said.

De Villiers had been itching to get back on the field after his first long lay-off since becoming a regular in the national line-up. “Sitting out, especially during the ODIs, was quite frustrating, but I learnt a lot from the sidelines,” he said. “It was the first time in a long time that I was sitting on the side watching the boys play.”

What made his absence even more disappointing was that it robbed him of his first chance to captain the team, after being appointed in June. Hashim Amla led the side and de Villiers said he thought Amla “captained very well”.

With Graeme Smith in charge for the Tests, de Villiers’ next opportunity to lead will come only early next year, when Sri Lanka visit South Africa. De Villiers said he is “excited” about the changes to the Test line-up. “We have two world class spinners in the squad for the first time in a very long time,” de Villiers said, referring to Pakistani-born legspinner Imran Tahir receiving his first call up and Paul Harris being retained in the squad. “There’s a whole different vibe in the Test team and with Jacques [Rudolph] coming back, there’s a different look to the team.”

Rudolph makes a return to the squad after five years in exile, during which he played for Yorkshire. He walked away from South African cricket a broken man, having lost form in the latter stages of his 35-match Test career. He returned at the start of the 2010-11 season stronger and more confident, and announced his arrival home by topping the SuperSport Series run charts. This season, he has already scored more than 500 runs in four matches. His recall was widely expected, even by the man himself.

“It was not really a surprise,” Rudolph said. “Since October 2010, when I made it pretty clear that I badly wanted to play for the Proteas again, I believe I’d stacked up quite a lot of runs. It’s helped that especially in the first three games of this season I’ve done really well.” Rudolph said he is ready to cement his place in the national side. “I’m 30-years-old now, I’m really enjoying my game and I can see myself possibly playing for another couple of years.”

Source: ESPN CricInfo – November 3, 2011 / FIRDOSE MOONDA