De Villiers says the Proteas’ confidence took a “bit of a slap” in their 130-run mauling by India last Sunday, but they were ready to bounce back against the West Indies.
South Africa cannot afford to lose as they would then have to beat Ireland, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates to ensure they finish near the top of their pool and secure an advantageous quarter-final draw.
The West Indies are coming off a spectacular 73-run victory over Zimbabwe with opener Chris Gayle back to his destructive best with the highest ever individual World Cup score of 215 containing a record-equalling 16 sixes, while Marlon Samuels scored an unbeaten 133 in an all-time ODI record stand of 372.
“They’re a dangerous cricket team. I believe if you put enough pressure on them like any other cricket team they can crumble,” de Villiers told reporters at the SCG on Thursday.
“We haven’t played well in the last game so we’ve got to make sure we look after our side.
“They do have weaknesses in the team and it’s important to push those buttons, especially in the pressure situations.”
De Villiers, who was run out for 30 at a crucial stage of South Africa’s abortive run chase after India’s 307, said the Melbourne defeat had not changed anything for them.
“Nothing’s changed with our approach except our confidence might have taken a bit of a slap in the last game which is maybe not a bad thing,” he said.
“It’s maybe a good thing for us to make sure we keep our feet on the ground.
– ‘Nowhere to go’ –
De Villiers argued against the perception that South Africa were traditionally too tense and uptight in big tournaments and carried a bloated support staff.
“We are in a very good place. It’s very easy to say a lot of things about our team after our previous performance,” he said.
“Look, I’m also disappointed about what happened there. We only have got the one extra consultant in Michael Hussey. Gary Kirsten has been around the team for a long time as have all the other guys.
“We don’t have a psychologist that we normally have in the World Cups.
“I really believe the team is in a good space, we have got the right amount of management here. Every single person knows his role, we didn’t do those roles well in the last game and we are hoping to do it better tomorrow.”
De Villiers said he has spoken with his players about the team’s slow over-rates.
The Proteas were fined for maintaining a slow over-rate against India, with de Villiers as skipper docked 20 percent of his match fee and facing the threat of a one-match World Cup ban if South Africa again fell short of the required over-rate.
“We have spoken about it at length. I think all the captains are under pressure in this tournament, they’re very strict,” he said.
“It’s understandable because this tournament is under the spotlight and things need to happen in the right way so I’m under pressure, we know that, we’ve had a good discussion about it.
“There is nothing else you can do about it than just get it right, it’s just one of those things that you have to keep the intensity for 50 overs which is not easy. I believe the boys will react.”
De Villiers said he had been told he couldn’t give away the captain’s arm band to circumvent a future ban for slow over-rates.
“I actually asked the umpires about it and I’m the nominated captain for the tournament so I still get banned,” he said.