ICC Cricket World Cup, 2014/15 news from ESPN

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015: We are three games away from winning WC, says De Villiers

Wellington: Even after losing their last cricket World Cup Pool B game against Pakistan, South African skipper AB de Villiers on Wednesday said they are only three games away from lifting the elusive trophy.

"I 100 percent believe we are the best team in the tournament here. Those two losses in the group stage did hurt us a bit but we are past that now. We know we are very close... three games away from taking that World Cup home," de Villiers was quoted as saying by

"The most important game is tomorrow but we know we are not far off so it's important to be positive and still believe we are the best."

The Proteas in their last group encounter the United Arab Emirates (UAE) here on Thursday.

The skipper said he was sure his side can chase down any score and he was quite confident of the batting line-up which has not quite fired in the last two matches.

"It's not an issue. I believe we can chase down any total, We've done it in the last year a few times under pressure. We didn't get it right the last couple of chases and that's alright."

"I am still confident in the batting unit. I believe there are a few guys due for big runs and it's going to happen soon at the right time," he said.

South Africa's immediate focus, though, is the balance of the team. Their preference for seven specialist batsmen has left them making up a fifth bowler from part-timers but playing five front-line bowlers will leave a batsman short which again can be a cause for concern.

"That's the difficult decision most teams have to make at this World Cup - an extra batter or an extra bowler," the 31-year-old pointed out.

"The last few games we have gone for the extra batter, against India we went for the extra bowler. Both times we lost. So it's a difficult one."

McCullum wary of Bangladesh's pacers

Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, singled out Bangladesh's pace attack as the real challenge for his batsmen ahead of their 2015 World Cup Pool A clash in Hamilton on Friday (March 13).

The Bangladesh pacers, Rubel Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza and Taskin Ahmed, took eight of the ten England wickets to fall (one more was a run out) in their famous 15-run victory in Adelaide, which sealed their place in the quarterfinals.

"I think what we saw the other night with a couple of the guys there, the threat that they pose with ball in hand for their quick bowlers is a lot more than a few years ago," said McCullum at the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

"Tomorrow's going to be tough. The quick bowlers are going to ask us some questions, especially if it juices up a little bit. But we've faced some good, quick bowlers over the last little while too."

New Zealand, having won all five of their matches in the tournament so far, will end the group stage on top of the Pool A points table irrespective of the result against Bangladesh.

McCullum, with three brisk half-centuries, including the fastest World Cup fifty, off just 18 balls, already, is expected to be targeted with spin by Mortaza's men.

“You can't get too wound up in the talk. The game is played with bat and ball, and tomorrow I guess we'll see what unfolds," McCullum pointed out. “So respectfully just wait and see what tomorrow has got to bring.”

He was also quick to disagree when asked if he felt his team was yet to be tested in the competition.

"We have been tested, and I think we've come through those tests," he said. "I think we've been tested considerably throughout the tournament, and I think we've found a way to get ourselves through those situations and it's really a pleasing aspect."

Confident that his team would make the most of the lessons from the past weeks, he added, “We've had the ability to bowl teams out in front to 200 and pretty much every opportunity we've had, we've had batters first, we've managed to get over 300. [Some] guys might be a little light on some hard game time under pressure late in a game. But it's, I guess, a byproduct of success we've been having along the way.”

He reserved special praise for Daniel Vettori, who’s taken 12 wickets in five games at a remarkable average of 11.33. “He's referred to as a bit of a wizard as well from teams over in Australia, and his art and his ability to just read a game and the ability to use a change of pace and subtle change of pace is something which I think not too many other guys around the world have such skill at. Couple years ago he was struggling for fitness, and I think what we've seen over the last few weeks is a guy who's gone away, worked incredibly hard on his fitness, and still has the drive within him to be part of the New Zealand team.”

McCullum confirmed that his teammates, including Kane Williamson, had recovered from stomach trouble and would be available for the game, but Adam Milne, who has a bruised shoulder, is likely to be replaced by Mitchell McClenaghan, the left-arm pacer, in what will be New Zealand’s first change to their XI.

The captain also backed Ross Taylor, the out-of-form batsman, to come good at some stage in the tournament. “His form is not a major concern,” he insisted. “He's been short of opportunity throughout this World Cup, just through the nature of us bowling as well as we have and obviously chasing down the runs."

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