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June 10, 2017

AB de Villiers

The Oval, London

Q. First of all, we assume you're 100 per cent if you're attending this press conference?
AB de VILLIERS: I am, yes.

Q. And then just looking, obviously to tomorrow's now must-win game, the team, spoke about the fact that you've taken it quite easy this week and the thought processes about getting the guys relaxed as possible -- do you think the best way to go is to play relaxed cricket to not get guys too tense?
AB de VILLIERS: Definitely. That's the way we've been successful throughout the year. We're really clear about what's necessary for us, and what's needed for us to go out there and win.

So I think the guys generally perform better if they are relaxed in their mindsets and not too tense. That's partly my responsibility to make sure there's no panic. It is a must-win game, but we've played quite a few of them in the last 12 to 18 months and we've had a lot of success in those must-win games.

So pretty much similar to what we've been doing in the last while, and same kind of approach for tomorrow I think.

Q. Are there any temptations to change the side tomorrow?
AB de VILLIERS: We'll have a chat now at the field when we go out there to practise. We'll have a look at the wickets. The temptation is always there. I mean, there are 15 world-class players on the side, so we'll have a look at whatever is the best possible 11 for us tomorrow against India. I'm sorry I can't give you more than that. It's just we haven't decided yet.

Q. There's been quite a bit of concern about your own form. You haven't scored a run in the tournament yet. I'm sure you would have wanted to score a lot more. Is that weighing on you or something you don't think about much?
AB de VILLIERS: Scored a few runs, not nothing. But not enough, yeah.

Look, I'm still in good form. Still hitting the ball well, as always. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it. There's nothing I can say here that's going to change anything except for that I still believe I can and hopefully I'll prove that tomorrow.

But I'm very excited with this opportunity for the team and for myself on the big stage to go and just enjoy what we do best and that's to play cricket and to enjoy each other's company out there. So we're very excited about tomorrow, and I also feel really excited about the opportunities tomorrow.

Q. The ball is not doing much, not much swing in the air, like are lengths becoming very predictable, fast bowlers' lengths? You're someone that likes to put them off, but do you see the lengths being this short of length? And secondly, adding on to that question, you have a bowling attack where like most of them like to bang it into the wicket, not too many swing bowlers really. So does that kind of help you the way the pitches are behaving?
AB de VILLIERS: We have a bit of everything in our bowling attack -- sorry, to come back to your first question. I don't think guys have been predictable with length. There's generally been a good length form for many years that works top of off. So Jacques Kallis always jokes about them, but it's true. If you find the right length where the ball is going to hit the top of off stump, it's generally a good ball, a good length.

But the grounds change. It's different in Edgbaston. I've seen Cardiff different lengths working there, and same at The Oval. So it's important for us to make sure that by tomorrow as quickly as we can we find that perfect length to hit the top of off more often than not with the odd bounce in between here and there.

We have set plans for all the Indian batters and we've analysed it really well through the last few days, and we feel prepared to go out there and play well tomorrow, and I'm sure with the experience we have on the side, we'll find the right kind of length and information in order for us to be successful tomorrow.

Q. You've been involved in many do-or-die encounters, you could write a manual on that some day. But what is the one key thing that teams need going into such encounters and how difficult is it to maintain that throughout?
AB de VILLIERS: I think we touched on it earlier; that it's really important to stay calm. Not get overexcited. The tendency will be there, because we all live for these kinds of moments. That's why we play cricket, we want to play on the big stage against the big teams and tomorrow is one of those games.

It's important for us to make sure we focus on why we've been successful over the last while and we've played with really good energy in both the games. I felt the guys were really hungry to succeed and unfortunately came unstuck in that last game.

So I'm expecting the same kind of intensity and hunger out there tomorrow but with a relaxed kind of mind-set. I think that's really important to remember we are playing a game of cricket, something that we love doing, and to get that smile on our faces out there when we're playing. It's going to be really important and I'll try and lead that from the front.

Q. Earlier Virat was here and he said he empathised with you in terms of not having got many runs in the tournament, for he himself had gone through that phase --
AB de VILLIERS: That's nice of him.

Q. He obviously had much praise for you, understandably. What's your take on Virat, and given the fact that often there's that AB/Virat/Joe Root/Williamson debate. How do you either admire him or respect him as a fellow batsman?
AB de VILLIERS: My take on him is quite simple, really. He's a world-class player. He's a top-class player. He's difficult to stop when he gets going.

So our plans will be around trying to unsettle him early on in his innings, like any other world-class batter, really. If you don't get them out early, they can do some damage.

He just does it really well when he gets going. He can really hurt you, hurt your bowling attack and take the game away from you.

I know him really well. We've played together quite a few years at Bangalore. I respect him even more off the field. Just a good guy with a good heart. I love the way that he plays cricket. He's very competitive. He always likes to come out on top. That's the kind of -- that's the kind of approach that I also have with my cricket. I like to compete and try and contribute in order for the team to win.

I have a lot of respect for Virat, like I said, on and off the field.

Q. India haven't played Ashwin so far in the tournament. As a batsman, as an opposition batsman, would you rather play an attack that had him in it or didn't have him in it?
AB de VILLIERS: It depends on the conditions, really. I'll be expecting to see him in the team tomorrow, so we are preparing to see him on the side. If it doesn't happen, then so be it.

I can't say if we prefer to have to play against him or not. He's a great bowler. He's taken many wickets in the past and he's had success against us, as well, in India. But that's up for them to decide. If he's in the team, we'll try our best to play well against him.

Q. Nobody can question your record as a batsman but is it fair to say that your captaincy is on the line in this tournament? Do you think about that?
AB de VILLIERS: Do I think?

Q. Your captaincy is on the line in this tournament.
AB de VILLIERS: I think my captaincy is pretty good. I've thoroughly enjoyed every second out there. Lost the last game, so that's never ideal for a captain. I understand what I'm trying to do out there. I'm really enjoying the captaincy. I think I make some good calls. But yeah, pencil's in your hand, and I unfortunately can't control what you're going to write but in my mind I'm a good captain. So that's unfortunately going to come down to the result again tomorrow. Hopefully a good one.


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