Faf du Plessis believes that the Proteas could benefit from the ‘underdog’ tag by replicating Pakistan’s Champions Trophy-winning gameplan.
It has become clear over the last year that the Proteas are not the favourites heading into the World Cup in England. The mantle of clear favourites has been shared by hosts England and the No 1-ranked ODI side India.
The Proteas, however, have clearly shown where their strengths lie during their dominate series wins against Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They dominated with the ball which drained up the pressure on their batting order, who have struggled to find the form they desire.
It would be idiotic not to utilize their best attribute which is their versatile and ruthless bowling attack which could give them the edge over teams in the tournament. Pakistan proved this in the 2017 Champions Trophy. Despite being a ‘less-talked-about team’, they relied on their lethal bowling unit to find glory.
Talking to the media after the Proteas’ 5-0 whitewash against Sri Lanka, Du Plessis explained how his side could take a page out of the Champion Trophy champions’ book.
‘Obviously, with it being in England they are favorites and they have been getting good results there,’ said Du Plessis. ‘India and Australia have proven that they are good tournament teams.
‘But for me, it’s about form. It really really comes down to the form that you are in as a team and as individuals.
‘If you have three or four in your batting lineup hitting purple patches it literally changes the whole tournament. If you have bowlers on top of their game [too].
‘No one would have said Pakistan were close to favourites heading into the Champions Trophy two years ago in England, but they just managed to bowl together as a unit and kept bowling sides out and surprised a lot of teams. So we going there with that exact same mindset.’
That ruthlessness with the ball was shown throughout the series against Sri Lanka according to Du Plessis. But he would have preferred for his batsmen, especially Aiden Markram, to get a chance to test themselves by chasing down the score needed. Unfortunately, that chase was disrupted by a broken floodlight.
‘There were a lot of things I would have liked to unfold tonight, obviously, Aiden [Markram, scoring big] being one of them. But it’s good signs that he [showed]. We all know he’s a good player but it’s about turning that corner and making more runs, so I was very chuffed for him. It was also a chance for the rest of our batting lineup.
‘A chance for JP [Duminy], Rassie [Van Der Dussen], even Dwaine [Pretorius] and Andile [Phehlukwayo] in a chase. It would have been perfect if there was just a little bit of pressure because in every game there is something you can take from it. So it was unfortunate that it was stopped short.
‘I think we bowled really well and this whole series we stopped Sri Lanka from even trying to get a score that was close to good enough on the day.’