De Villiers fears pitch will blunt Proteas' pacemen
South Africa captain AB de Villiers believes the pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Sunday's World Cup clash against defending champions India will not favour his fast bowlers, saying batsmen should revel on it.WorldCup2015 Updated: Feb 21, 2015 18:35 IST
South Africa captain AB de Villiers believes the pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Sunday's World Cup clash against defending champions India will not favour his fast bowlers, saying batsmen should revel on it.
"I've played here in the past and I have never played at the MCG with a lot of pace and bounce," de Villiers said ahead of the Pool B game that will almost certainly lift the winner into the quarter-finals.
"It's always been quite slow, which doesn't suit us that well," added the skipper, whose bowling attack features the impressive pace trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
"The last game we played here against Australia (in November) was one of the slowest wickets I've ever batted on.
"At night maybe it skids on a little bit more, but also you get value for your shots a little bit more," the dashing batsman added.
"It's certainly not a quick wicket, so we will have to adapt as quickly as possible, assess the conditions and try and get the momentum on our side."
De Villiers' views contradicted those of India vice-captain Virat Kohli, who said the hard MCG wicket had more bounce than many other pitches in Australia.
Meanwhile the Proteas skipper welcomed the prospect of playing before some 80,000 spectators, most of them largely boisterous Indian fans.
"I am pretty happy that it is going to be packed," said de Villiers. "The last few games I played here it was not full, and it almost feels wrong in a way. You almost get lost in the middle out there, it's so big.
"So it's nice to know that it is going to be chock-a-block tomorrow. I've always enjoyed big crowds and enjoyed busy, intense games.
"It should get the blood flowing tomorrow playing in front of the big crowd in a big stadium with great tradition and history.
"We always love playing in big games, so nothing will change. We're just looking forward to playing some good cricket tomorrow."
South Africa were severely tested with both bat and ball by Zimbabwe in their World Cup opener in Hamilton last Sunday before recording a 62-run win.
The Proteas were wobbling at 83 for four before being bailed out by a brilliant record stand of 256 for the fifth wicket between century-makers David Miller and JP Duminy.
Zimbabwe then made a valiant pursuit of a target of 340, reaching 191 for two in the 33rd over before the last eight wickets fell for 86 runs to hand South Africa full points.
"The way we came back was very positive for us," said de Villiers, looking to lead South Africa to what would be a first World Cup title. "The top order needs to assess conditions a bit better up front. That's probably the main thing we learnt with the bat.
"With the ball in hand, we started a bit slow, but I think the guys learnt from that and we are ready to go tomorrow," he added.