PAKISTAN TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 2018-19
Cricbuzz Staff •
“I can promise you it’s not just tough for them. It’s tough on the captain as well. I also want to be scoring hundreds and averaging fifty” – du Plessis © AFP
Faf du Plessis cracked a battling 103 and also stitched a 156-run stand with Temba Bavuma to put South Africa on top at stumps on Day 2 of the second Test of the series against Pakistan in Cape Town.
The hundred also helped du Plessis to end his poor run of form. The South African captain averaged a mere 24.36 in Tests last year. Incidentally, not just du Plessis, but the likes of Hashim Amla, Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Makram also weren’t among the runs in the longest format in 2018.
With the likes of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi and the exciting Anrich Nortje in their ranks, South Africa have mostly prepared seam-friendly surfaces in recent times and that has made it tough for batsmen to pile on he runs.
Du Plessis admitted that conditions at home have been tough for batsmen over the last few years. However, he added that with South Africa’s key strength being their pace battery, the batting unit is ready to take on the challenge of playing on tricky surfaces.
“I can promise you it’s not just tough for them. It’s tough on the captain as well. I also want to be scoring hundreds and averaging fifty. But it’s a good mindset in our changing room. We speak about that, and it’s something that we’re ok with. And I think you can look at our openers as examples. They are guys that front up to tough conditions all season round. And I think what makes us that little bit different to other teams is that we are okay with it. If it means failure, as long as we’re winning, then the team does buy into it.
“But it is tough on young guys making their mark, playing on wickets that are a little bit spicy. And then you go overseas and you play in the subcontinent, where the ball probably spins from day one. So it’s tough at the moment for guys, but as with the captain, they just want to win games of Test cricket. They’re very happy. If we’re winning, everyone stays in the team.”
Du Plessis’s teammate, Bavuma, also had a good time, notching up a crucial hand of 75. The middle order batsman has been in fine form, evidenced by the fact that he averaged 42.14 in Tests last year.
However, it has been three years since Bavuma scored his one and only Test century, versus England at Newlands. The right-handed batsman, on his part, said that he doesn’t focus too much on personal ambitions.
“If I look at the positive, it’s that I managed to get the team into a strong position. I try not to focus too much on my personal ambitions and milestones. As long as I’m contributing to the cause of the team, the guys are happy with my commitment and efforts, I can also sleep with a smile on my face.”
Just like his captain, Bavuma also backed the strategy of preparing tracks suited for South Africa’s fast bowlers.
“Everyone is using conditions to their advantage, and I don’t think we should do any different. We’re playing at home. We know how to play at home. We’ve got a strong quartet of fast bowlers, and we want to give them everything possible to be at their best.”