Cricket 9.2.2018 09:24 pm

Proteas banking on the AB factor for PinkDay

AB de Villiers. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

AB de Villiers. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

The talismanic batter is back just in time to help South Africa overturn their poor form in the ODI series against India.

While the Proteas have been ruthlessly strangled by India in all three ODIs thus far, one cannot underestimate the inspirational effects the PinkDay ODI at the Wanderers or the return of AB de Villiers will have on the team, according to all-rounder Chris Morris.

South Africa have been well-beaten in all three games so far, and they are standing on the brink of losing the series to India, for the first time on home soil. But their unbeaten record in the six previous PinkDay internationals at the Wanderers as well as the return of the talismanic De Villiers gives them some hope to cling on to.

“It’s do-or-die and we’re going to fight every single ball. It’s a special day at the Wanderers in front of a packed house and we have an emotional attachment to the game because it makes us realise how very lucky we are to do what we’re doing while so many people are fighting with cancer.

“I managed to get some runs in my first PinkDay and last year Dwaine Pretorius took four wickets to win the match, so it will be great to see another youngster put up their hand again. It’s like playing at Lord’s, guys tend to put on something special because it’s a special occasion. We’ve had a good run in these games and we hope for the same on Saturday,” Morris said.

The return of De Villiers certainly boosts their chances and South Africa’s most destructive batsman had a lengthy, impressive net session on Friday.

“What AB brings off the field in terms of calmness and experience is almost as valuable as how world-class he is on the field. He always has input, some advice which is always solid and the guys always listen. I really enjoy just sharing the field with him, it’s special for me every time because he’s one of the best players in the world and one of the best ever for South Africa. It’s just the AB factor,” Morris said.

Notwithstanding his incredible record in PinkDay ODIs, if it does not happen for De Villiers on Saturday, then the Proteas will be praying for a traditional Wanderers pitch on which the spinners play little part.

The strip being used on Saturday is the same one as for the 438 game, although it has been relaid.

More pertinently, it is off-centre on the square so it leaves one boundary exposed as a much shorter hit away – which will hopefully prevent India from bowling Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in tandem.

“There’s a spinner in every team these days and you’ve just got to handle it head-on, get on with it. I think every single cricketer in South Africa hopes for an old Wanderers pitch which used to be really nice for batting, but not so much for bowling.

But we’ve just got to play without any complaints, no excuses and no hiding away,” Morris said.

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