Faf du Plessis says that the Proteas have their sights on the No 2 Test ranking with a win in Hamilton.
After starting the season at No 7, the Proteas have since won series against Australia, Sri Lanka and are now poised for a win in New Zealand, provided that they can get over the line in the third Test in Hamilton.
The Proteas (106) will need to win the final Test at Seddon park, and the series 2-0 for them to end above Australia by a point in the rankings, who currently have 109 points. If Australia win the current series against India, they will remain the No 2 side. India are well ahead at No 1, with 117.
‘Our goal was to get to No 2 at the end – we knew No 1 was going to be a little bit steep, because India were so far ahead – so our goal was to get to No 2 and if we do that, it will be an incredible year,’ Du Plessis said. ‘We would have ticked every box, won every series we’ve played, and I saw there will be a nice little bonus for second place as well, so that will be nice to get the guys going.’
Du Plessis continued by complimenting his current side’s form and the legends who played before him
‘I don’t think people appreciate and understand exactly how well the South African team before me and the guys that are playing now did. The record was exceptional. That India series was the one series where we were outplayed, but apart from that we’ve been really good,’ he said.
‘Mentally we are a very resilient team. We know that whatever the situation on the day, you have to find a way and try and make sure you deliver. You can never use an excuse, whether it’s green or spinning. You just have to get on and do the job. Our mental toughness has helped us.’
In the past, South Africa have been known to rely on one or two players to bail them out of tough situations. The current Proteas squad have seemed to fall into that groove in the current series against New Zealand. Dean Elgar starred in the first Test, while half-centuries from Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma in the second helped the Proteas to go 1-0 up.
The Proteas captain has called for the consistency and cohesiveness, for the final Test against the Black Caps, which saw them claim whitewashes against Sri Lanka and Australia.
‘In every series, every time there has been a saviour in the batting line-up. If we don’t have those guys who save us on the day, there would have been a few times when we would have been rolled out cheaply,’ said Du Plessis. ‘That’s a concern. It’s not good enough. We want more consistency.’
Photo: EPA/Dave Hunt Australia and New Zealand