The Proteas were good with ball – particularly leg-spinner Imran Tahir – decent in the field and arguably below par with the bat in the first of two T20s against England.
It was just enough to get them over the line off the very last ball, courtesy of another bit of magic from all-rounder Chris Morris, which ensured South Africa can enjoy the advantage of a 1-0 series lead heading to the final match of the tour at the Wanderers today.
“If you’re England, it’s been a long tour and something like that can knock the wind out of you because, like I said, you (England) should have won that game. For us, that’s mentally a big step in the right direction,” Du Plessis said after Morris and Kyle Abbott scampered two runs off the final ball at Newlands.
“Successful teams get over the line even when they shouldn’t. Certainly the trophy-winning teams I have been involved in, it becomes a habit when you can get over the line when the other team look like they should.
“We take a lot of confidence from that.”
Du Plessis believed the narrow victory achieved in dramatic circumstances could even have greater significance, especially with these two teams set to meet again in the World T20 on Friday, March 18 at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
“Everything is geared up to that first game,” the skipper stressed.
“We want to put some scars into England mentally because we’re going to see them in the first game of the World Cup again.
“Like I said, both teams made a few errors and we will go back to rectify things.”
With six games, including two warm-up matches in India left before that pressure cooker in the Indian capital, there is not much time to experiment with combinations, although Du Plessis would like his entire squad to get some game time before flying off to the sub-continent.
Quinton de Kock sat out the Newlands T20I as a precaution due to a knee injury sustained before the third Test at the Wanderers a month ago and should come back into the starting line-up at his former home ground for Hashim Amla.
Although Amla made 22 off 21 balls (3x4) at a strike-rate of 104 on a two-paced Newlands pitch, De Kock simply adds a different dynamism at the top of the order.
The wicket-keeper/batsman has the potential to form a potent opening combination with AB de Villiers and the pair could team up at the Bullring today to help close out the series.
“I said we will try and give guys opportunities in the five games – two against England and three against Australia,” Du Plessis said.
“That is something we will look at – keep guys fresh but still try to put out your best team as possible. It is incredibly important for me if you can win a series.”
Du Plessis will also hope his middle order get some more quality time in the middle.
JP Duminy showed signs of returning to form with a 21-ball 23 but did not complete the task at hand, which was taking South Africa over the line.
Time is also running out for Rilee Rossouw and David Miller to rediscover that sweet touch that makes them dangerous players, especially at the back end of the innings, and both will look to put in big performances today.
Du Plessis has less concerns about his bowling unit, who are operating well at the moment.
The all-rounders (Morris and David Wiese) have provided the skipper with more options and Tahir looks like he’s back to his dominating best.
“His control was great. He bowled one full toss but the rest was exceptional. He spun the ball both ways,” Du Plessis said of Tahir.
“He wins games on his own. As a captain, that’s a huge weapon to have. Even though they (England) had a great start, I knew Immi was going to be a handful.”
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese
England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, James Vince
– THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENTLet’s scar England mentally ahead of the Mumbai battle, urges SA captain Faf du Plessis.
Original source: Faf wants bullring bashing stuff