Cardiff, June 7: South Africa captain AB de Villiers praised Shikhar Dhawan describing him as a "very talented individual" after the India opener's century helped India defeat the Proteas by 26 runs in Champions Trophy on Thursday (June 6).
De Villiers said that he had played with Dhawan in the Indian Premier League with Delhi Daredevils and knew his game very well.
"Shikhar and I played with Delhi (Daredevils). I know his game quite well; he's a very talented individual. He played really well today. He's got the whole package, and I'm sure he'll get better as his career goes on. He's a good player," said De Villiers after the match.
Dhawan scored his maiden hundred to star in India's opening victory in the tournament here.
De Villiers also spoke about how it was a "big shock" to lose Morne Morkel to injury. The tal paceman could not complete his quota of 10 overs as he walked off the field with injury while bowling his 7th over.
Here are the excerpts from De Villiers' interaction with the media
Question: Do you think the Cardiff weather bowled you a googly because at the time of the toss it was cloudy and cold, and when play started the sun was out?
AB de Villiers: Yeah, that's not the reason I bowled first. We just had a look at the stats and the past scores and stuff like that, whether it was cloudy or not we still would have bowled first. I was expecting a little bit more from the wicket and a bit more movement up front, which we didn't get.
Then again losing Morne Morkel in the middle overs was quite a big shock, but the way the boys shot back right to the 50 overs was a great effort. I thought we restricted them to a chaseable score, and unfortunately, we just couldn't get there.
Q: Do you think the short ball will be used especially early on?
De Villiers: I don't think so. Against the sub-continent teams - I told someone in one of the previous interviews that I still prefer some of the batters in the sub-continent teams to rather hit us off our lengths, instead of hitting it on the ground and missing a length on the fielder side. I don't mind that especially in the English conditions.
You can argue that, but still we'll go back to the drawing board and reassess where we went wrong, but I don't mind the guys having an aggressive mindset. I'm very proud of the way we fought back. We got five wickets in a very short period of time in the middle overs. Then I think that was probably the short ball paying off and something coming our way because of that, because of us having that aggressive mindset right throughout the game.
Q: There were times in your innings when you could and maybe should have won?
De Villiers: Yeah, that is the reason I'm hurting, and that's why I'm quite disappointed with what happened here today. After being down and out in the first 50 overs, beyond the eight ball, to restrict them to 330 was first of all a great effort, and then to get ourselves into a winning position was even better.
Unfortunately, there were a couple of run outs, unforced errors, but I take a lot of positives out of this game. I'm not going to sulk too much. We'll try to learn from our mistakes, and we've got a massive game against Pakistan. We've played them a lot in the recent past, and we know the areas we're going to attack. And a bit more from - I'd like to see a bit more from the positive cricket that we've played today in the next one.
Q: Can you explain the unforced errors?
De Villiers: The couple of run outs were probably unforced and due to miscommunication. In the heat of battle sometimes you're so eager to do well for your team and you're just not always on the same mind wave - or whatever you call it - than your partner at the other side.
Q: You spoke about the aggressive attitude of your fast bowlers early on and you backing them. Were you surprised by the attitude of the India openers or lack of success from the opening partnership?
De Villiers: They didn't show a lot of aggression, but I thought they didn't bowl too badly. We got off to a flier of a start. I thought we had the upper hand then. It's difficult to give a lot of credit when you're playing better than the opposition. I think we had 77 in the first 10 overs, so we played quite well. But still I've seen a lot of them in the recent past, in the IPL, I've seen them bowling really well. There is a lot of talent in the Indian seam bowling attack.
Q: I mean the aggressive start of the India openers?
De Villiers: Oh, the batting? Okay. Yeah, yeah, Shikhar and I played with Delhi. I know his game quite well; he's a very talented individual. He played really well today. He's got the whole package, and I'm sure he'll get better as his career goes on. He's a good player, and unfortunately, we couldn't get him out at the right time today. But that's not where we went wrong.
Q: How concerned are you without Steyn and Morkel? Your bowling is looking a bit lightweight.
De Villiers: It will be a big loss not to have them here. But I'm pretty sure the staff and management team will get both of them on the field and in the next game, hopefully, if not, hopefully the last game. But we'll assess things tomorrow. Morne Morkel is going for a scan, and we'll have a look at that, if I'm not mistaken. We'll have a look at that tomorrow.
Q: You said that you would go after India like a pack of wolves. How much of that wolf or attitude or the energy you said affected one, and were you surprised to see Rohit Sharma opening the innings? You said you had a lot of intelligence about the Indian team.
De Villiers: Yes, there was 100% of a pack of wolves out there today. Like I said before, I was very proud of the way the boys fought back, especially after losing Morkel. It was a great fight back and the energy was high right throughout.
We didn't get a lot of opportunities for run outs and things like that. But every time I connected with the team, the energy, and intent and their awareness was there. I'm very proud at the fact we kept them down to 330. It could have easily been 360 or 370, which could have taken the game out of reach for us.
And Rohit Sharma, wasn't too surprised he was the other option. It was either him or Murali Vijay, and we know both the players quite well. We actually looked at both the players before the game what their strengths and weaknesses are. So we were expecting the unexpected today and we got a little bit of that.