Oxigen Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis, says his team is taking significant strides in handling pressure situations after the last-ball three-wicket win against England in the first KFC T20 International at PPC Newlands on Friday. Although it was far from a perfect performance, the Proteas will take important match survival skills from the manner in which they held on for the win.
“Over the last two years I feel we have made some real strides,” Du Plessis said after the match. “If you go back to the previous World Cup, we played well in T20 cricket and won some close games. We should have lost those games but we pulled it back. That is all you can do, you can try get better at pressure moments, that is the only difference between games like these and games in the World Cup, at the World Cup there is 15% more pressure because if you lose the match you are going home. If we can do small things like we did tonight that’s great learning for us.
“That’s what you try to do, most successful teams get over the line even though at times they shouldn’t,” he added. “The trophy winning teams that I have been involved with over the years make it a habit of winning games when it looks like the other team should win it, we will take a lot of confidence from that. We didn’t play the perfect game but to still get across the line is huge credit to us.”
Du Plessis admitted that one of himself or JP Duminy should have batted through after their 41-run third-wicket partnership, but once again, and in the space of a week, ‘x-factor’ all-rounder Chris Morris carried the team across the winning line with an unbeaten 17 off seven balls.
“It’s a case of us having a long strong batting line-up,” he said. “Having eight batsmen in T20 cricket is something that I really enjoy, that is where you can win games. The longer your batting order is the longer you are in the game, England are in a similar position with a long line-up. The key for me is to get Chris to the crease when there are one or two overs left, he can come in and clear the rope, he can hit sixes from ball one. When you have him and David Wiese there it makes your batting line-up so destructive.”
The Proteas travel to Johannesburg on Saturday ahead of the final match of the series at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Sunday, and have set their sights on nothing less than a series win.
“I said that we would try to give guys opportunities in the next five matches,” Du Plesis said. “That is something we will look at, keeping guys fresh and trying to mix it up but still trying to put up our strongest possible starting line-up on the day. It’s important for us to win series, we are playing England in the first match of the World Cup and everything that we do is geared towards that. Finishing the series off 2-0 would be great.”