Series win more important than No 1 position, says AB de Villiers

South Africa are just a draw shy of reclaiming the world number one spot in Tests, but middle-order batsman AB de Villiers on Friday said the visiting team would cherish a series win more than the ICC rankings.

He said the Proteas have the momentum with them and were focused on winning the series.

“We are not too worried about ICC rankings. Obviously, it would be nice to be number one Test side in the world, but our focus is to win series in India. We are here to play good brand of cricket,” de Villiers told reporters after team practice at the Eden Gardens ahead of the second and final Test against India.

“We are obviously playing good cricket at the moment. We are evolving and trying to dominate world cricket, we are still working towards it. Cricket is all about momentum and confidence. We have come from Johannesburg Test win as well as in Nagpur and we have won two Tests in a row,” he added.

De Villiers sought to ignore the controversy surrounding the Eden pitch which the BCCI, apparently, had wanted to be tailor-made to suit their spinners.

“There is a little bit of grass on the wicket at this moment. I am pretty sure they will take off the grass in the next 48 hours. But it is up to the groundsman to decide, we have got no control at all,” said the right-hander.

Asked about the return of a fit-again VVS Laxman in his happy-hunting ground at the Eden Gardens, de Villiers said, “He is a class player. He has performed really well in the last few years. We have got our plans and we are going to stick to that.

“But, we are focusing on our game and on our strengths. We are not too worried about them (India). Obviously, they are a good side but we are not too worried about our opponents.”

He, however, reckoned that India would come out with all guns blazing after the humiliating innings defeat in the first Test at Nagpur.

“It’s going to be great challenge here at Eden Gardens and I am sure India will fight back. But our team spirit is great (following the win in Nagpur). We are really enjoying the mood in the camp. Our focus is to win a Test match in Eden Gardens,” de Villiers said.

“We are sticking to our gameplan. There is no need to change when you are winning Test matches. The guys are playing pretty well and set at the momentum. We are focusing on our basics and our skills. We are pretty much ready to give the best shot.”

Speaking highly of Eden Gardens, de Villiers said he was etching to play his first Test at the venue.

“It’s an amazing experience to play cricket at Eden Gardens. It’s one of the grounds that bring the best in you. MCG, Lord’s, Eden Gardens come in one bracket. It is a special place to play Test cricket. My first Test here. The crowd here is too good and we are expecting a noisy match,” he said.

On South Africa’s interim coach Corrie van Zyl, who took over from Mickey Arhtur just before the series, de Villiers said, “It does not change much in the side. We still got the same gameplan and strategies. He has been very good in the first Test, we will see it here as well.

“But we miss Mickey (Arthur) a lot. We had a wonderful five-year association.”

Recalling his side’s home Test series against England where they had a 1-1 result, he said, “It was a little bit disappointing. We would have fancied our chances to win that series. We dominated most of the Test series. But the positive thing was we won the last Test to bring the momentum back in the side.”

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