Faf du Plessis’ record-setting 185 at Newlands should rank as one of his best centuries, but which is his greatest?
Maiden hundred as Test captain (August 2016)
Being selected as Test captain has done the world of good for Du Plessis. He has managed to rack up 546 runs, including two centuries and two fifties at an average of 54.60. In his second Test as skipper, he scored 112 not out against New Zealand in the second Test at Centurion, to help SA set a first innings total of 481. SA went on to win the match by 204 runs and claimed the series 2-0.
Series-winning ton against India (October 2015)
In the series decider against India, SA set their joint-second highest ODI total of 438-4 in Mumbai. Three centuries were scored, one by Quinton de Kock, one by AB de Villiers and the other by Du Plessis, who top scored with 133 not out (six sixes and nine fours), smashing sixes while suffering from severe cramp. Although he retired hurt after setting his highest total at the time, the damage was already done. India were bowled out for 224, losing the match by 214 runs and with that, SA claimed the series 3-2.
Du Plessis holds the highest T20 score by a South African
It may come as a surprise that Du Plessis holds the highest T20 score, but in the second match against West Indies in January 2015, he achieved this feat. With SA batting first, Du Plessis smashed 119 off 56 balls to help SA set 231-7. Although they lost the match and the series 2-1, this would be a memorable game for Du Plessis, who still holds the highest score by a South African in the shortest format.
Test debut century (2012):
After drawing the first Test in Brisbane, SA needed to fight hard to get a result in Adelaide during the second Test against the Aussies. A double century by Michael Clarke (230) helped Australia post 550 in their first innings. The Proteas responded with 388, Faf du Plessis playing brilliantly on debut with a half-century, hitting 78. His second innings in the white strip will remain an unforgettable one. On a mission to save the game, Du Plessis saw out the entirety of day five, scoring 110 not out to see SA to their second draw of the series. This match was crucial to the Proteas securing a series victory with a win in the final game at Perth.
The Proteas’ win in Hobart sealed a third consecutive series win for SA Down Under. South Africa were truly dominant in their opening two Tests, beating the Aussies convincingly on both occasions. The celebrations, however, were hushed by the media who circulated footage of the Proteas captain shining the ball with mint saliva. This was followed by ball-tampering charges from the ICC. Du Plessis retaliated on the field, silencing critics by hitting an unbeaten 118 and cheekily declaring with SA on 259-9. Although the Proteas ended up losing the match, there’s no better way to stick it to the critics.
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