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De Villiers wants pacers to chase wickets against Australia

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Proteas captain, AB de Villiers, says strike-rate rather than pace will be the telling factor in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia starting at the WACA ground in Perth on Friday. The series has been hyped up as an anticipated showdown between the fast bowlers, but De Villiers believes success will come down to the “ability to take wickets” rather than kilometres per hour.

“The important thing in one-day cricket is not really fast bowlers but strike bowlers,” De Villiers said at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

Imran Tahir boasts the best strike-rate amongst the Proteas bowlers with a rate of 26.6, with Ryan McLaren (29.5) and Dale Steyn (31.8) following behind.

“You get different forms of that; Imran Tahir can be a strike bowler for us in his own way. It’s the guy that has the ability to take wickets, for Australia that has been Johnson more often than not and for us probably Steyn more often than not.  Other bowlers have played their roles in important games in the last 10 to 15 ODIs for us.”

The traditionally pace-friendly conditions at the WACA could tempt the Proteas to select an all-seam attack, with either Rilee Rossouw or Farhaan Behardien filling the specialist-batting gap left by JP Duminy.

“The only thing that is upset is that we will be limited with our sixth bowler,” De Villiers said of Duminy's absence. “JP hasn’t really played as one of our top five bowlers, except for the one game in New Zealand where we felt we could get away with it with myself also bowling a few overs.  We don’t have that option anymore, we need to go with five frontline bowlers and we must still decide whether or not we will play a specialist spinner at the WACA or go with an all-out pace attack.”

The Proteas will take some confidence from their successful record at the WACA. South Africa have won seven out of eight matches at the 20 000-seater ground, with the series-clinching 309-run Test win two years ago their most recent accomplishment at the ground.

“We’re in a good space as a team,” De Villiers said. “It’s nice to be back here, we have had some good memories here as a team and we really enjoy playing here.

“We have played some really good cricket of late so there is a lot of reason to be confident, but quietly confident in a way.”