De Villiers: Proteas lacked fight

The Proteas bowled Misbah-ul-Haq’s men out for 222 in Auckland but were dismissed for 202 in reply, with De Villiers (77 from 38 balls) the only batsman to pass 38.

The South Africa captain says he should take some of the blame for not geeing up his players enough before the match, but is adamant that his team can still lift the World Cup trophy on March 29.

“It was a disappointing loss and I think Pakistan wanted it more than us,” said De Villiers, whose side have now won three and lost two of their Pool B encounters.

“I didn’t feel any electric vibe; it’s my responsibility to get the guys going which I didn’t and they weren’t prepared to fight.

“It was almost like a car that’s stuck in second or third gear, and that’s not going to win you cricket games, especially not under pressure and in big tournaments like this.

“We didn???t have good enough partnerships, there were too many soft dismissals and I’ve got nothing good to say about our performance.

“I firmly believe there’s nothing wrong with the batting line-up, nothing wrong with the cricket team, and I don’t feel there any scars. So I???m still excited about the ability of the players around me and I know we can win the World Cup.”

Thrilled

Pakistan, meanwhile, have won three games on the trot to join South Africa on six points and coach Waqar Younis feels the 1992 champions have finally found the right personnel and where to position them.

Sarfraz Ahmed starred in his first game of the World Cup – scoring a run-a-ball 49 before taking a record-equalling six catches in an ODI innings – while the recalled Younis Khan added a valuable 37 from the No 3 spot.

And Waqar says confidence in the camp is now growing that they can replicate the achievement of the Imran Khan-led squad that defeated England in the World Cup final 23 years ago.

“We have started finding the right combinations and people have started believing in themselves and trusting their abilities,” said Waqar, whose side were beaten by India and West Indies in the opening two games.

“We are playing the aggressive cricket Pakistan is known for and are going to get better and better, so I am very thrilled – but there is a long way to go.

“In 1992, Pakistan lost early games and they came back very strongly. They had the belief and Imran Khan had the belief. I believe and I hope that that belief is coming into our dressing room.”

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