AB de Villiers turns South Africa's opener with an eye on World T20

Cuttack, Oct 4: Keeping in mind next year's World Twenty20 in India, South Africa are experimenting with AB de Villiers' batting position by giving him the role of an opener in the current series, Farhaan Behardien said today.

2nd T20I preview; Series guide

De Villiers opened the innings in the first T20 in Dharamsala and he blasted 51 from 42 balls. South African middle order batsman Behardien hoped the latest move by their team think tank would be successful ahead of the World T20.

A file photo of AB de Villiers

"The first six overs in a Twenty20 game when the ball comes on to the bat is crucial. If we can pounce on the Power Play, AB is that good a player that if he bats for 50 to 60 balls, he will end up with a hundred," Behardien said at a news conference on the eve of the second T20I.

"He was mentioning that he has been on tour to India about 25 times. We wanted to test it out before the World Cup next year in March and see how he goes. Let’s hope it proves fruitful for us."

South Africa lead the series 1-0 after their seven-wicket win in Dharamsala where close to 400 runs were scored but it would be different in Cuttack, the South African said.

"In Dharamsala, to get close to 400 runs in 40 overs was little bit of a freak thing. From an altitude point of view, it is much lower so the ball will not fly around that much.

"We have to play according to the conditions. There might be more ones and twos. Running between the wickets might be crucial, and from a bowler's perspective certain pockets in the field will be crucial."

Making his T20I debut, the 32-year-old showed a lot of character and stayed calm as he along with man-of-the-match JP Duminy's unbroken 105 partnership sealed the win with two balls to spare.

Giving credit to Duminy, he said," He has been here so many times, he is the captain of Delhi (Daredevils) in the IPL. I have learnt a lot from David Millers and AB de Villiers as well. Before coming to India, I personally did a lot of work my coach Rob Walter (at Titans), played a lot of spin.

"We looked how to work in the middle overs of the T20, India generally bowls a lot of spin in that particular period. It was nice to stay calm, and JP had a calming influence on me."

The right-left combination with Duminy also made it difficult for the Indian bowlers, Behardien said. "One of the conscious efforts is to try and disrupt the bowling unit. The field always has to change, with fielders having to cover different sides of the boundary. The bowler has to change his line and length. JP has different strengths to what I have, and he has different weaknesses to what I have."

South Africa have three captains in Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla for T20Is, ODIs and Test and Behardien said it brings an air of freshness especially to deal with a long 72-day tour.

"I think we all grow into particular kind of roles. AB, Faf and Hash command different kind of respect. It's nice to have new and fresh ideas in all three formats. All three lead by example.

"AB's on field performance, Faf speaks with a good command and Hash is calm and cool. He has a certain presence about himself. I think with different guys coming into different teams, it's quite fresh to have that captain's perspective for that particular series, especially in a long tour like this to India.

"For one guy to captain in all three formats becomes a bit tough. To go from press conferences, to team selections and worry about your own performances. So it (split captaincy) takes away the pressure. They are massive players for us in all formats, and this keeps them fresh and all the teammates enjoy this fresh perspective," he said of their three T20Is, five ODIs and four Tests series in India.


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