We like being called chokers: De Villiers and Tahir on South Africa's massive win

AB de Villiers and Imran Tahir were speaking with the media after South Africa beat Sri Lanka to qualify for the World Cup semifinals. You can also listen to the full press conference in the audio widget above.

Q. AB, is that as good a bowling performance as you've seen in a one day game from your side?
AB de VILLIERS: Yeah, it's up there with one of the best I've seen. Look, we've done some amazing things with the bowling before. I wouldn't say it's the best, but definitely the most important performance in the most important game to date. So very proud of the way the guys stepped up to the plate, the way Dale (Steyn) and Kyle (Mills) started off and then Morne (Morkel) who followed with a lot of heat, and then obviously the two spinners. We just worked really well today as a bowling unit today, and the fielders batted up exceptionally well.

Q. In terms of a bit of a momentum going into the next match, what did tonight prove to yourselves?
AB de VILLIERS: Yeah, it means a lot to us. A big part of sport is about confidence and the way you believe in your ability, and I truly believe that we feel really strong as a unit and confident going into the semifinals. In the other side, or in other breath, it means absolutely nothing. You're going to have to start over again, and the hard work starts now. Look, we didn't come all this way to say that we made it to a semifinals of a World Cup. We want to go all the way as a team, and we believe we have the right group here to achieve that. We'll just have to really regroup again. I think it might be in Auckland and see how we're going to overcome the next obstacle.

 We like being called chokers: De Villiers and Tahir on South Africas massive win

De Villiers and Tahir celebrate a wicket against Sri Lanka. AFP

Q. Imran, despite having such a great strike rate with the white ball, do you think there's a perception that whenever it comes to subcontinental sides, spinners are the weak link in the South African attack, so did that motivate you all the more to do what you did today, you and Duminy, and how do you describe your performance?
IMRAN TAHIR: Yeah, look, I'm really pleased obviously with what I've been doing for this team. But like AB mentioned earlier, I think the fast bowlers set the standard for us. If they didn't do well, then obviously it wasn't going to be easier for us, as well. I think as a team we're working hard and going in the right direction. I think that's the key for maybe my success, maybe for Morne's, Dale, JP's success. I think as a team we're working hard and going in the right direction, I think. That's for all our guys' success, I think.

Q. AB, South Africa never having won a knockout game in World Cup cricket. Do you think that talk will end now or have you actually got to win the tournament before that conversation goes away?
AB de VILLIERS: I don't mind really. I think we liked being called chokers, so we'll just keep that tag and move along as long as we keep winning. It's a great achievement from a team that, like I said before, we came here to win the World Cup. Our next hurdle is the semifinals and we'll try to find a way to get over that hurdle. Look, we still have hopefully two games to go. We haven't won the World Cup yet.

Q. AB, they say that it's difficult for a team to emotionally win a game like this one. It was so important for South Africa to win this game. Do you think your team will have the time to recover their emotions to go out and do battle in Auckland, as well?
AB de VILLIERS: Luckily we didn't have to work too hard for this victory. It was a shortened game. So yes, a lot of emotional energy used but not a lot of physical energy. If I'm not mistaken, it looks like our semifinals will only be on the 26th. Am I right? It looks like it. 24th. There's plenty of time for recovery. It's only the 18th now. Look, we had a couple of games during the tournament where it was back to back, and that was quite odd, but there's more than enough time now to recover from whatever stress we took into that. I honestly didn't feel it was that strenuous what we went through today, but just very happy that we overcame today's hurdle. It was a tough one; never easy to play Sri Lanka, especially in World Cup games. They're a tough team to beat, so I'm very chuffed with what we've achieved, and I'd like us to enjoy this victory tonight and move on tomorrow.

Q. Apart from the excellent bowling you had today, during the first half do you think the pitch played any role? Was it sporting?
AB de VILLIERS: No, not what I saw, no. I thought it was just a great batting performance, I really did. I didn't see the ball move around off the seam. There wasn't a lot of swing.

Q. Was there any difference after it had rained that made it easier?
AB de VILLIERS: I don't think so. I don't think we bowled them off their feet. It was just a really sharp, good game plan kind of performance from the bowling unit. I didn't see them jumping around in the crease or playing the seam with a lot of balls. It was just a really good team effort. I think that's all I can say.

Q. Is there a sense of relief at all now that you've got this win?
AB de VILLIERS: Every single game I've been playing for this team is an incredible achievement, and a very, very good feeling, so I'm relieved and I'm very, very happy that we won today. In tournaments like this you're always under pressure and you want to do the people that support you, you want to do them proud, and you want to make them feel that they're supporting the right team and they're supporting for a good reason. So I'm very, very chuffed at the way we performed. It was a big pressure game, and we just showed everyone that we can do it.

Q. What is Morne's head space like at the moment because he seems to have come into this tournament, he's often somebody that cops quite a bit of criticism back home. He's come into this tournament and seems to have bowled as well as he's ever bowled. What is his head space like, and how did he get to this sort of plane where he's playing the way he is?
AB de VILLIERS: I think Morne, I think the fact that he was part of the Kolkata team winning that trophy not long ago played a big part in his personal career, I really do. You could just see a lot of belief in his eyes. He talks with confidence, a lot of confidence, and he's taken up a lot of responsibility in the bowling unit. It's not only Dale as the leader, it's him, as well. He's definitely one of our leaders and our captains in the bowling unit. He's bolstered up his performance, but it's not just about that. He walks the talk. He's very confident, and I don't think you've always seen that in his career. So the fact that he's lifted a trophy I think with Kolkata in the IPL maybe played a big part in him really believing that he actually can play a big role in teams winning Cups. He's playing a huge role in the bowling team believing that they can run through sides.

Q. Just from the perspective of playing in the semifinals, how important was it for Quinton de Kock to get some runs for his own confidence?
AB de VILLIERS: Yeah, it was crucial. We all go through patches like he did in this tournament. We've all been in dark spaces, and I think he has been in this tournament. A lot of credit to the selectors, to the coach, the guys who kept backing him. I think they must have been tempted a few times to let him go and maybe for me to take the gloves, but it was a great call from them to stick with him. He had a fantastic game, took a couple of crucial catches. You know what can happen when you let catches go down. It can turn a game upside down, and he hung onto them today, and the way he batted with confidence was amazing. At that age to go through a patch like he has been going through, to come out there in a quarterfinals of the World Cup with confidence shows what kind of player he is and what he can achieve in his career, and I'm looking forward to the next few games to see him up the order again.

Q. Imran, do you train for your wicket celebrations because that was some serious pace and stamina that you showed out there today?
IMRAN TAHIR: No, it's just something really -- it's just in me, I think. I don't practice for that, I'm sure. But look, that's how I play my cricket. Even there's a gentleman here, I'm here he's from Stoke, and kind of he knows even I played a club game in Stoke and I took a very good catch, and I think I ran out of the ground, so they had to always tell me which way is back to the ground. I was on the road, I don't know where I was. It's a true story. I'm just not trying to make it up. But I think it's just something I can't really tell you. It's just because I want to enjoy everything I do for this team. This is a dream, you know. Because maybe there is a million people and not have this opportunity what I have to play for this team is just an absolute honour, and I think every wicket I take is just for South Africa, for me, and it's just given me such a joy, and I think if I express it -- like I said, I don't know why it comes out, but -- I don't know. I have no answer for this.

Q. How big a role do you think spin will play in the World Cup, especially in the semifinal at the SCG?
AB de VILLIERS: In our game? Just in the World Cup? A major role. It changes the pace of the game completely. I think all captains use that kind of tactic to sort of see if the batter can adjust the pace of his game. There are a lot of reasons why spinners have always played a big part in big tournaments like this. There are plenty to mention but I certainly think it will play a big role. It's just a matter for the captain to really use them at the right time.

Q. What was the most important part of the preparation for this game if you had to just isolate one or two things that really changed the mindset and the outlook going into this game?
AB de VILLIERS: I just think we sort of committed to the fact that we're not going to show any weakness, you know. You know that in knockout games things don't always go your way. But we know that in any game actually. You can't dominate cricket games 400 overs. It never happens. To take a couple of shots on the chin and the way you take it is really important, not to show any weakness to the opposition. I think everyone committed to that really well, and just the belief, the belief and to know that the guy next to you will go to war with you. I think we felt that walking onto the field today, and when we sang the anthem we felt really proud, could feel the way the boys shook each other's hands that we were ready to play some really good cricket. I think little things play a big role in you getting ready for big games like this, just really believing in each other.

Updated Date: Mar 18, 2015 18:24:38 IST