After scoring his first two ODI centuries during the triangular series in Zimbabwe, Faf du Plessis is determined to continue cashing in on his form.
The Proteas No 3 has scored 401 runs at an average of 66 in six ODI’s on the current tour, and has been the standout performer in testing conditions. He hit a career-best 126 on Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough as his side fell 63 runs short of the target set by Australia.
‘I’ve said before that my job is to score hundreds,’ Du Plessis told media after the loss. ‘I ticked that box but getting a hundred and crossing your team over the line is much sweeter.’
The encouraging thing for South Africa is that Du Plessis isn’t taking his purple patch for granted. After a slump in form saw him sit on the bench during the recent ODI series in Sri Lanka, the former Affies pupil is determined to make the No 3 birth his own.
‘I’m hitting the ball nicely, but I feel I can still improve quite a bit,’ he added. ‘I’m enjoying the number three role, I think it suits me a lot better than it did at number six. What is really important for me is to get big runs when you are in some sort of form. It [form] can change really quickly, I need to make sure I keep putting in big runs for the team.’
Du Plessis lamented the lack of partnerships during the unsuccessful chase. The middle-order struggled once again and Du Plessis didn’t have enough support to take the team home.
‘The way the wickets play here is the reason for that,’ he said of the middle-order collapse. ‘The ball gets slower so it’s difficult when you come in as a new batter to score runs. Even when I was scoring I always felt like it [the target] was too far away because we kept on losing wickets.
‘It’s definitely the toughest time of the innings to bat. In saying that, you need to make sure that when you get a partnership going you extend it as long as possible. That was the difference with our performance in the previous match. AB and I had a good partnership, unfortunately 30 or 40 run partnerships are not going to win you the game.’
According to Du Plessis, the loss of regular wickets during the chase wasn’t the main factor contributing to defeat. Instead, he felt Mitchell Marsh’s blitz at the end of Australia’s innings was the difference between the sides.
‘I think if we pin point an area where we probably lost the game it was when Mitchell Marsh fired at the end of the innings,’ he said. ‘Their innings was set up to reach 240 or 250 and we had a brilliant bowling performance until then. He played fantastic cricket shots, but we as a bowling unit will be disappointed that we allowed him to score so many sixes.’
The Proteas play their last pool match of the series against Zimbabwe on Thursday. All they need to do in order to claim a spot in Saturday’s final is prevent the hosts from claiming a bonus point victory.
Photo: Sabelo Mngoma/Backpagepix