AB: Black Caps no longer ‘dark horses’

South Africa ODI captain AB de Villiers feels labelling New Zealand as ‘dark horses’ is no longer apt, as he feels they are legitimate threats to win the World Cup on their own soil next year.

De Villiers and the Proteas arrived in Auckland for a three-match ODI series against the Kiwis, and he was far from relaxed about it, saying Brendon McCullum’s side would pose a big challenge, both now and in February.

De Villiers said: “I would not call them dark horses. I would say one of the favourites. They’re always a very competitive ODI team. Playing on their home grounds in their country, they’ll be even more competitive.

“We know what they are capable of, especially playing in these kinds of conditions. They haven’t won a big tournament for a while so they must be very motivated to do well. We are expecting a very competitive series.

“[They are] very used to the conditions over here in New Zealand and Australia. They will have a lot of home support with the games here, even in Australia as well. It is a short flight over there.

“They will have a lot of people right behind them and wanting them to do well. They haven’t won a World Cup so they will be desperate to do well.”

De Villiers then spoke of Royal Challengers Bangalore colleague Dan Vettori, saying he would be pleased as a skipper if he could call on the veteran spinner, and felt he would do well at the World Cup despite a long absence.

He said: “I played in the IPL with him and that was always the plan, to have him as part of the World Cup squad. No surprises for me and I would feel very confident if I was in their team having Dan in the side.

“Huge amount of confidence, experience that comes into the side. He has done it before. He has got the world’s best batters out before.

“From a captaincy point of view it is always nice to have a guy like that in your side, right behind you, helping you with a few moves and the thought process of how you are supposed to be moving forward as a team.”