CANBERRA: South Africa captain AB de Villiers on Tuesday backed his team to go far in the World Cup following a 201-run romp over hapless Ireland in Canberra to record their third win in Pool B.
The Proteas are often regarded as the best team never to have won cricket’s showpiece event, having fallen in the knock-out rounds after cruising through the league stage.
But de Villiers was confident history could be re-written this time, but preferred not to look too far ahead.
“Look I have believed for the past year that we can win the World Cup, but we are taking it pretty much match by match,” de Villiers.
“I have told the boys to try and not watch other games, just focus on what we have to do. The focus now is to play Pakistan in Auckland on Sunday.
“When we reach the quarter-finals we will think of the opposition and give it our best shot.”
South Africa’s third win in four matches brought them level on six points with defending champions India, who have played one less match.
Ireland were left with four points from three games.
De Villiers said he was very happy with the performance against Ireland, especially the batting in which they piled up 411 for four and then bowled out the rivals for 210.
The charge was led by Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, who hit centuries during a 247-run stand for the second wicket.
Amla scored 159 off 128 balls to become the fastest man to reach 20 ODI centuries — in 108 innings — and du Plessis made 109 in a scintillating display of attacking batting on a dry, run-laden pitch.
South Africa’s total was the second highest total in World Cup history, just two runs behind India’s record 413 for five against Bermuda in 2007.
It was the second successive 400-plus total for the Proteas in the current tournament, following their 408 for five against the West Indies in Sydney last week.
“The guys stuck to their game plan pretty well,” said de Villiers.
“There was a great partnership between Ash (Amla) and Faf (du Plessis).
“When you get a partnership of 200-plus in an ODI, you always get yourself in a good position. We found ourselves in a good position going into the last 15 overs, which gave us a lot of freedom to express ourselves.
“We ticked lot of boxes today. You can never be exceptionally happy with a performance. But I am very happy the way we did the basics and played a fine game of cricket.
“Our strength is in the maturity in the side. We do things our way. We are not trying to follow any unique strategy or someone else’s strategy. We stick to our game plans and what works for us.”