South Africa v England, 1st T20, Cape Town February 18, 2016

Preparation more important than results - du Plessis

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'I know what our best team is' - du Plessis

Victories are not the only barometer South Africa will use to measure their readiness for next month's World T20. Instead, their five home internationals - two against England and three against Australia - will act as dress rehearsals for their matches in India, even though conditions and combinations will be completely different.

"If you've got you team for India and try and roll that out in South Africa, it's not always going to right. But it's not always about the best thing for now. It's about looking ahead," Faf du Plessis, South Africa's T20 captain, said.

"For me, the biggest thing is the World Cup, so everything we do is geared around that. If we lose 2-0, it's not ideal for preparation but it's about ticking the stuff we're still working on and making sure you're improving on that. If we've nailed our skills and we win five out of five, that's great. But if it goes the other way it's just about gradually stepping up."

That may mean South Africa will do some unusual things to their game plans - which will be focused on scoring as many runs as possible in the Powerplay and doing a bit more nudging and nurdling later on - and to their XI. At some point, perhaps they will even field two specialist spinners in Imran Tahir, who is regarded as their first choice, and Aaron Phangiso, who performed well in the South Africa A game against an England XI on Wednesday.

Phangiso was the only one of the three national squad members in the A side who had something to show for his effort in the warm-up match. He took 1 for 29 in four overs while David Miller and Farhaan Behardien scored only 10 and 4 respectively. Du Plessis did not mind too much, saying it was more important for Miller, especially, to get game time after sitting out the ODI series. "Whether you do well or not spending time in the middle is always better than being in the nets," he said.

Both Miller and Behardien are likely to be in South Africa's XI along with allrounders David Wiese and Chris Morris. That may not sound like the strongest middle-order but, given South Africa's history of meltdowns in that department, it does promise some muscle and all four of them were always part of du Plessis' plans.

"I do know what our best team is," he said. "That's the great thing about how our plan has unfolded in the last year-and-a-half. Then we sat down and planned our ideal XV that we would like to go to the World T20, and that was the XV that was on paper at the squad announcement. In that period we experimented, we tried new roles, we tried to see where guys are suited best. In my mind I'm pretty clear what that is."

Now it's about everybody putting those well-thought-out plans into action and that is all du Plessis wants from the next few weeks ahead of the tournament. "I see the next five games, seven if you count the two warm-up games, about giving most of the guys game time," he said. "You can't always guarantee that everyone is going to play. It's just about to get some guys ready and feeling good before that first match starts in the World Cup."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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