Faf backs AB as SA opener

2013-03-01 00:00

PROTEAS T20 skipper Faf du Plessis confirmed that AB de Villiers will open the batting and keep wicket in today’s opening T20 international against Pakistan at Kingsmead.

Speaking ahead of the game, Du Plessis said: “It’s a call we are making as we look toward the next World T20 in Bangladesh.

“It’s only 12 games away, and with AB missing the T20 matches against New Zealand, he is fresh and ready to take on the responsibility.”

De Villiers started his career as an opener, but has since made the four or five batting berth his own.

According to Du Plessis, it’s De Villiers’s pedigree in international cricket that has seen him return to the top of the order for today’s clash.

“He is the X-factor and one of the best batsmen in the world. He is excited with the move and he is capable of scoring a century from the top of the order,” said Du Plessis.

“There are not many batsmen in world cricket who can do that and this is an option we are trying.

“He scores by playing proper cricket strokes and offers balance for fellow opener Henry Davids.”

Dolphins quick Kyle Abbott, who set the third Test against Pakistan at SuperSport Park alight with seven wickets on his debut, is seen by Du Plessis as a key protagonist, especially at the death of an innings.

“Kyle had a great start to his Test career and has shown his skill in the limited overs format of the game at domestic level,” said the captain.

“I am excited by what he can do and believe he will play a vital role in these formats. He will prove useful at the end of an innings and he offers handy batting down the order as well.”

South Africa’s last T20 international at Kingsmead was rather one-sided as they crushed the Kiwis by eight wickets, chasing 87 to win.

This time around, Du Plessis is under no illusion he faces a tougher assignment, saying: “Pakistan are one of the top two limited over sides in the world and have match winners in the team. With respect to New Zealand, this is a bigger challenge and we will need to play hard to win the series.”

Looking ahead and working on bringing balance to the Protea T20 side, Du Plessis said: “We are working toward the World Cup and there is a plan behind the decisions we make, even if it baffles onlookers.

“We are working on our batting and bowling skills in practice and planning off the field. We want to be better and are incorporating fresh ideas with different outlooks so come the world cup we have players and gameplans we have worked on over time.”

Asked whether more T20 matches should be played to enable his Protea side to adapt to the game on a regular basis and thereby define keen roles for the players, Du Plessis said: “It would be better for us to play extra matches against provincial or smaller international sides, but the cricket schedule is already tight. Overseas they play more matches but we will have to work with what we have.”

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