Chennai, February 11, 2011
Choking under pressure is a thing of the past for the new-look South Africa, wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers said on Friday as his team attempts to win the World Cup for the first time.
South Africa have been a formidable force ever since they made their World Cup debut in 1992, but have consistently fallen short on the biggest stage. They failed to clear the semi-final hurdle in the 1992, 1999 and 2007 tournaments despite starting among the favourites.
"We've shown recently that we can play in big situations and under pressure," de Villiers said in Chennai ahead of a warm-up game against Zimbabwe on Saturday.
"We are not focusing on what happened in the past. We have a different look now. In recent times, we have been the opposite of chokers. ICC tournaments are different, there is pressure in the knockouts but we will be ready for it."
South Africa's build-up to the event this time around has been encouraging, with hard-fought one-day series wins over Pakistan and India.
de Villiers put the recent success down to his team's ability to perform in tense situations.
"We have shown more than enough flair," he said. "I don't want us to be the unpredictable side of the tournament and I think we are at the level where we can read situations and adapt."
The 26-year-old also dismissed the need for a mental conditioning expert, given their failures in crunch situations.
"The team does not need any extra help," he said. "We are focusing on the small things and not worried about failing under pressure at all."
The Proteas are fielding a fresh-looking squad for the tournament with as many as 11 players set to make their World Cup debuts.
South Africa open their campaign against the West Indies in New Delhi on February 24, followed by games against India, England, Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands.
The World Cup, being co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, starts on February 19.