South Africa v Australia, 2nd T20, Johannesburg March 6, 2016

Poor basics cost South Africa - Du Plessis

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'When the game is on the line, have to get the basics right' - Du Plessis

Even though South Africa lost their first T20 in six matches, captain Faf du Plessis was impressed with their attempt at defending 204. Du Plessis identified the extras - South Africa sent down eight wides and two no-balls compared to Australia's three wides and one no-ball - as the difference between a successful second innings and a failed one.

"As a captain all you can ask of your bowlers is to be skillful at the death and bowl the ball in the right areas and we did that," du Plessis said. "I am not overly disappointed. The disappointing thing is that when the game is on the line, you want to make sure you get your basics right. To bowl two free hits in the last two-and-a-half overs, is a match swing of about 10 or 12 runs."

Chris Morris was responsible for one no-ball and two wides in the 17th over, Dale Steyn for a no-ball in the 18th over and Kagiso Rabada for two wides in the final over but du Plessis said he will stick with them as his death-bowling options, especially Rabada who came close to defending 11 off the last over. "You can't always be hyper-critical on every situation," du Plessis said. "We've got our death bowlers, Dale, Morry and KG. I've got no issue trusting a 20-year-old to bowl the last over. That's how far he has come."

Du Plessis also had praise for Steyn, who was making his comeback after more than two months on the sidelines. "I wasn't too worried about his pace. On his first game back, you can't expect a guy to bowl 150[kph]," du Plessis said. "I was really impressed with his control. The plans that he had were really good. It was almost like he never left, so yes, a really good day for Dale."

Steyn was not used to open the bowling, bowled his four overs in the mid 130s kph and claimed two wickets, thanks to superb catches, and will have to get through the final match to confirm his inclusion in South Africa's World T20 squad. That match is the series decider in Cape Town, which du Plessis hopes can give South Africa one last test before the World T20.

"It gives us another opportunity to have a crack at a real pressure game. It's nice going to the World Cup, just to make sure and to see when the pressure is really on you how we react," he said.

Hashim Amla will likely displace Quinton de Kock in that match as part of South Africa's plan to "give everyone a go" and in keeping with the strategy of AB de Villiers opening, even though de Villiers has not come off against Australia. "We decided on AB at the top a while ago and to change that would be a sign of panic" du Plessis said. "I think our strongest team is with AB at the top in India. If the World Cup was in South Africa the thinking would be different."

That does not mean there won't be place for all of Amla, de Kock and de Villiers, particularly if the middle order don't fire. "If we are struggling to find guys in the middle order who are not in form, we can maybe look at how to get AB in there but at the moment everybody is in good touch," du Plessis said.

Aaron Phangiso will also play the final match, if his bowling action is declared legal. Phangiso will be tested on Monday with results expected by Wednesday at the latest to determine his availability for the World T20. Should Phangiso not be cleared to go, his replacement may play in Wednesday's match and whoever that is - possibly, Eddie Leie who has returned to bowling after suffering a hamstring injury - will beed to be wary of getting the small things right. "It's the one percenters we can learn from, from a bowling point of view," du Plessis said.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SimplyShaun on March 7, 2016, 21:03 GMT

    Dear Faf have you considered that changing your top order to Amla, QDK, you and AB might not be a sign of panic but an act of wisdom and a shining example of humility? I'm a South African so I appreciate how stubborn we are. The good thing is if you stick to this plan long enough Amla's retirement will take care of this for you. I mean the fans expect to wait another twenty-years before you guys figure it out and bring home a trophy of note so there's no rush. Speaking of retirement how close is JP to retiring? I think retiring while he is still our top run scorer in T20s would be a lovely and joyful note to leave on.

  • jimmyvida on March 7, 2016, 13:34 GMT

    FAF decided a long time ago to open with ABD. Bad decision. He intends to stick with it. Stupid. Before the tour started I said open with Amla and De Kock. Faf can bat at number 3 with ABD at number 4. If you think that only the opening spot is available for ABD, then just simply drop him.

  • leggar on March 7, 2016, 11:59 GMT

    Poor captaincy cost SA the match. SA had it in the bag when the Aussies were 3 down after 6 overs but then they fatally allowed Warner and Maxwell to smash Wiese and Tahir for 8 consecutive poor overs of bowling. Why? They had other bowling options and it was so obvious that the batsmen were growing in confidence and beginning to believe. By the time the in form bowlers came back it was all over. If Duminy isn't going to bowl his off spin in a situation like that, he shouldn't be in the team. Disappointing performance. No team should lose from that situation and it doesn't bode well for SA's chances in the world T20.

  • gimme-a-greentop on March 7, 2016, 11:09 GMT

    @cready...well, when it comes to domestic performance I feel Behardien did actually make the ODI team on merit, even if his performance counts more than a similar performance of a "white" player (I use inverted commas because race is a construct). I was speaking in the context of T20 cricket. He is not a power hitter, doesn't bowl and although not a bad fielder in general usually makes an error under pressure. If it is about quotas, surely someone whose game actually suits the format.

  • Duidelik on March 7, 2016, 9:37 GMT

    Why Behardien is consistently in this Proteas set up, remains a mystery. JP Duminy is long past his prime and should consider retiring. When we persist with selections based on past performances, reputation and picking ''bits and pieces'' players like Behardien, then we deserve losing our number one statuses. We have also contrived a new way to choke....post a huge score and let the bowlers bowl a pile of pork pies!

  • Ms.Cricket on March 7, 2016, 9:30 GMT

    BEst place for AB is no 3 but Faf wants that spot for himself so AB is pushed to the top - not smart.

  • protea_best11 on March 7, 2016, 9:28 GMT

    I think sending Behardien ahead of Morris and Wiese was a huge mistake and a conservative one. Although Wanderers is a batting paradise, Faf, Quinny & Killer (Warner & Maxwell too) batted well. Its good to see us posting good totals without AB contributions to prove that we don't rely on him.

  • Cready on March 7, 2016, 9:00 GMT

    @GIMME-A-GREENTOP. Re: Behardien's selection. A mystery, really? Remember that merit is not the only thing that can get someone in the team. SA is still too defensive with the ball they simply need to attack better from the beginning. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if Abbott was in instead of Tahir. I know Tahir brings spin option and is generally good in T20's, but on the Wanderers pitch?

  • protea_best11 on March 7, 2016, 8:47 GMT

    Our bowlers were poor. Too many full-tosses, i do understand a low full-toss if you trying to bowl a yorker but a beamer? Wanderers is always a batting paradise. 230-odd in T20 was chased down at this ground, 434 was chased down in ODI on this ground and 450-odd was almost chased down in a test match.

  • gimme-a-greentop on March 7, 2016, 8:33 GMT

    Faf has actually been good as captain but he certainly had an off day yesterday. Unfathomable that you would bowl Wiese and Tahir for 8 straight overs when they are getting hit. As I said before, Wiese is a good T20 bowler on wickets that grip a bit but absolute cannon fodder on flat wickets. How do they not see this? Abbott would have been a way better choice in joburg. The fielding under pressure was also woeful, which does not bode well for the world cup. Same as the NZ semi-final. Poor old Morris literally froze with the ball. Can't really blame him with that rabid, fickle joburg crowd on his back. He seemed calm with the bat under pressure. How Behardien gets anywhere near this T20 team remains a mystery.

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