Faf is thrown to the wolves, but produces the goods

2013-11-08 00:00

WHEN Faf du Plessis walked in at number three for the Proteas in the third ODI against Pakistan on Wednesday, South Africans held their breath.

Was this a sign that it was his last chance? Had the selectors had enough and decided to throw the lamb to the wolves? And the big question: would Du Plessis redeem himself and post a decent score?

The “yes” box could be ticked for all the answers — the big question a little after the first two. More importantly, Du Plessis did produce the goods, showing glimpses of why he was selected for the Proteas in the first place. When all was said and done, he had made a vital 55 from 60 balls, enough to earn him man of the match and restore a dose of confidence that had long gone missing in the Dubai desert.

Speaking ahead of today’s fourth ODI, Du Plessis made no bones about the importance of his performance and the pressure he was under.

“I can say I feel like a new man. Yes, I was under pressure and needed to put in a good performance,” he said. “I managed to do that and to make it count in an important win.”

Having averaged below 20 in his last 11 visits to the crease, it was vital for Du Plessis to justify his place and selection in the team, while dealing with a strong, skilful Pakistan bowling attack.

“We all know how good the Pakistani bowlers are and it was me pitting my skills against them. I went out in a positive frame of mind, keen to attack and not allow the bowlers to have me on the defensive and get pegged down,” he said. “My only disappointment was getting out. I had done the groundwork, got to 50 and needed to push on, which I should have done.”

Nonetheless, Du Plessis admitted his innings and the fact that the Proteas were 2-1 up in the five-match series had taken a huge weight off his shoulders.

“To be honest, I feel like I have lost 50 kilograms after that knock,” he joked.

Du Plessis said he found the wicket less susceptible to spin, and coming in at the fall of the first wicket had allowed him to settle, get used to conditions and set up a reasonable total.

“Getting to 250 was always going to be a good score to defend and for us to have the lead in the series is massive, especially away from home.”

However, Du Plessis was wise to the fickleness of sport when it came to himself and the team.

“For me, this is obviously an upward curve, but this is sport and I could easily come crashing down today,” he said.

“So too the team. We need to keep that upward curve going in the right direction while we have the advantage.

“In the past, we seem to have got into the habit of winning a game then losing the next. It’s time to change that, and go all out for the series win today and wrap everything up with a game to spare. We don’t want extra pressure going into a must-win final game when we can kill the series now.”

Today’s match starts at 1 pm (SA time) and is on SuperSport 2.

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