de Villiers salutes Ageas Bowl as Proteas hit top spot

AB de Villiers leads the celebrations as South Africa claim the wicket of Craig Kieswetter. Picture: Robin Jones
AB de Villiers leads the celebrations as South Africa claim the wicket of Craig Kieswetter. Picture: Robin Jones
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South Africa skipper AB de Villiers saluted the Ageas Bowl deck after leading the Proteas to the top of the ICC rankings.

After sealing an 80-run win at Hampshire’s headquarters, the tourists knocked England off the ODI summit – making them the undisputed number one in every format.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for host captain Alastair Cook, who has called on his men to ‘stand up and be counted’ and reverse the 1-0 NatWest Series deficit in the remaining three fixtures.

De Villiers, though, is determined to keep his feet on the ground after the crushing win, inspired by an irresistible 150 from in-form batsman Hashim Amla.

He said: ‘There are still a few things we can work on.

‘It’s been a good game for us but there’s a long way to go in the series.

‘We’ve got a lot to prove and many areas to get better.

‘Hashim is on fire at the moment. We’re all proud of him and what’s he’s achieved – hopefully he can maintain that form for many years to come.

‘The [Ageas Bowl] wicket played quite well throughout.

‘But luckily we kept getting wickets and that kept the pressure on them.

‘We are quite proud [to be number one].

‘But there’s so much cricket around at the moment.

‘We’re just working towards our ultimate goal – winning the World Cup and staying at number one in the world.’

Cook, meanwhile, has called on his troops to draw strength from their winter series with Pakistan and bounce back.

‘We didn’t play very well, in all three aspects,’ he said.

‘Our dropped catches are slightly disappointing – they’re not sticking at the moment.

‘You can’t give good players chances like we are doing.

‘But we’ve got three games to bounce back.

‘Against Pakistan we lost the Test series and turned it round in the one-dayers.

‘We have now got to stand up and be counted again.’

Amla’s knock came off 124 balls with 16 fours, as South Africa closed on 287 for five.

Ian Bell and Samit Patel both hit 45 for England but with wickets falling regularly, the hosts failed to deliver a sustained challenge and were all out for 207.