Looking forward to ICC Champions Trophy: De Villiers

Dubai, May 8 (IANS) South Africa captain AB de Villiers has admitted that the upcoming Champions Trophy is a golden opportunity for the side to lay its hands on a piece of International Cricket Council (ICC) silverware, a feat the country has not achieved since 1998.

“We are really looking forward to the ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales. This is another opportunity for us to win that elusive ICC trophy and it will be a great test for our ODI squad looking ahead to the World Cup in two years,” admitted de Villiers.

“I personally think every opponent in our group is a threat. Our recent 3-2 win over Pakistan only highlighted the threat they (Pakistan) can pose in the limited-overs format, and India and the West Indies can both be destructive if they arrive on the day. We are going to have to start strong in our opening match against India at the Cardiff Wales Stadium and hopefully use the momentum for the extra advantage through the group stages,” he added.

The Pretoria-born wicketkeeper-batsman, who has 5,542 ODI runs to his name to date, singled-out some key players, including players from not only his own side.

“The nature of ODI cricket is such that any player can take the game away on the day. I think looking specifically at our group, Chris Gayle is one of the major players who stands out, as well as Mahendra Singh Dhoni who is a master-class with the bat.

“I think the one element that has worked in our favour has been our process of focusing on ourselves. We have some big game-changers in Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla, and some exciting youngsters who are brimming with potential. JP Duminy will also make a comeback after a long absence and I’m looking forward to having him back. We have some quality cricketers in our current ODI squad. We are coming off a series win where we saw some great performances from the likes of Ryan McLaren with the ball and obviously myself with the bat.

“I think if we can collectively take the confidence and momentum we gained during our series win over Pakistan, any player in our squad can win the game for us on the day. We have a balanced makeup of experience and youth in our squad. I think that will be to our advantage in the competition.”

South Africa are in Group B alongside world champions India, current ICC World Twenty20 holders West Indies and Pakistan, all good sides according to the South Africa captain.

“They are all quality cricket sides and they have some key players who can win the game on the day. We’ve played India and Pakistan in the past couple of years and both the series went down to the last match. That’s a key indication of the depth and talent of the sides in our group. It’s going to be a challenge that we are definitely up for.”

South Africa’s fixture:

June 6 – South Africa v India, Cardiff

June 10 – South Africa v Pakistan, Edgbaston

June 14 – South Africa v West Indies, Oval

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