Supersport analysts Kepler Wessels and Shaun Pollock pay tribute to Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis.
On Amla’s return to form
Wessels: ‘When you come out of a lean spell, you want to try and convert a start if you get one, and that is exactly what Hashim did. That was more like the Hashim of old. He moved very well, his feet were going well, his balance was good, he timed the ball well and his power of concentration was immense. He set a very good example for the team and led the fightback. There has been a lot of talk about does the captaincy affect his batting, but, today it was in a positive fashion, because he really set the tone.
Pollock: ‘His frame of mind never really changes whether he is in good form or bad form, which is what made him such a good player down the years; it was a perfect start and they cashed in. The way they went about it was very conservative, and they were selective and patient about what they went after and it has put England under a lot of pressure. The bowlers will be feeling the result of being in that field for a full day.’
On Faf du Plessis:
Wessels: ‘The management want him in the team, which is why they have given him a long run when he wasn’t in form, so he owed them a big score. He also really applied himself. What I really liked was that over the past month his only thought has been on survival. At least today he had more of a positive outlook in that he was trying to score runs, and I think that helped him. It was the sort of pitch to get back into form, but he did a good job doing it.’
Pollock: ‘When Faf started out, he had those big [defensive] innings against Australia and India, and he has almost taken on that identity. He is a better player than that. He has the ability to score runs at a decent rate of knots. I’m not saying he can play at the tempo of AB de Villiers but he can be aggressive and play with positive intent. His defensive technique is secure, and he can absorb pressure, but you can’t go though your career just absorbing.’
On the pitch and run-rate
Wessels: ‘The England bowling was much better. South Africa were very loose yesterday morning when the runs were flowing. England had established a pattern very early and they stuck at their task very well and that made run-scoring very difficult and it didn’t allow AB or Hashim to dominate. It is a good lesson for the South African bowlers to learn: how to contain on a flat pitch; because this pitch is too flat. It is not a contest between bat and ball. Not enough is happening, so the bowlers have their work cut out.’
Pollock: ‘There was no sideways movement. Maybe it would be different if there wasn’t a strong wind and the guys had got the ball to swing; then at least you have something to work with. The ball has carried and there has been a bit of pace but no sideways movement off the seam; no one got it to swing. Strategy-wise, England have been a lot smarter than we were, particularly with the new ball. If we had had a strategy when Stokes started to come hard at us, like England did, he would not have been able to be as destructive as he was.’