Du Plessis draws con­fi­dence from bat­ting dis­play

Pretoria News - - SPORT - ASHFAK MO­HAMED ashfak.mo­[email protected]

AT least this time the Proteas bat­ting line-up didn’t “ex­plode” into sub­mis­sion against Eng­land, and it is a step in the right di­rec­tion for South African cricket.

That was how cap­tain Faf du Plessis sum­marised the ap­pli­ca­tion shown by his bats­men on the fi­nal day of the sec­ond Test against the English at New­lands on Tues­day.

Hav­ing come off a 3-0 se­ries loss in In­dia, South Africa did well to re­cover and win the first Test against Eng­land at Centurion, espe­cially with a new coach­ing staff and direc­tor of cricket in place.

Some of the old bad habits were back in Cape Town, with Du Plessis and Quin­ton de Kock giv­ing away their wick­ets too eas­ily as the Proteas tried to save the sec­ond Test.

Head­ing into the third Test that starts at St Ge­orge’s Park in Port El­iz­a­beth next Thurs­day, the skip­per was en­cour­aged by the fight­ing spirit dis­played as South Africa fell just 8.2 overs short of se­cur­ing a draw at New­lands.

“One or two men­tal er­rors, but if you look at it from a bat­ting-unit point of view, from where we were two months ago – where we were very weak men­tally in In­dia, where we ex­ploded pretty quickly…” Du Plessis said.

“(The sec­ond in­nings) was an op­por­tu­nity for us – if we were men­tally weak – to go in a sim­i­lar di­rec­tion, and we didn’t. It’s just about im­prov­ing as a young Test team, and mak­ing sure we are get­ting bet­ter.

“Some­times you will still lose by im­prov­ing, and that was the case for me in the last two days. As a bat­ting unit, we can take con­fi­dence from see­ing guys like Pi­eter Malan, and the way he played. Rassie (van der Dussen) drop­ping an­chor there, do­ing what the team needs.

“There were some real good signs from a bat­ting point of view in this Test match. Yes, there is still room for im­prove­ment, but I do feel we are im­prov­ing.”

The Proteas are tak­ing a breather for a few days be­fore gath­er­ing in Port El­iz­a­beth, with Du Plessis stat­ing they need to “fill the tanks with petrol”.

But he also added that the brains trust will “look at the bal­ance of the team – what would work the best there. And make sure that we work on the ar­eas of the game where we are not yet where we should be”.

While Malan is likely to con­tinue as Ai­den Markram’s re­place­ment, the bowl­ing at­tack could be tweaked for what is of­ten a slow and low St Ge­orge’s Park pitch.

Apart from Kag­iso Rabada, Ver­non Phi­lan­der, An­rich Nortje and Ke­shav Ma­haraj as the spe­cial­ist bowlers from the sec­ond Test, and Dwaine Pre­to­rius as an all-rounder, other op­tions in the squad in­clude Dane Pater­son, Beu­ran Hendricks and Andile Phehluk­wayo.

Faf du Plessis

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