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Alan Gardner in Mirpur
April 3, 2014
Faf du Plessis, South Africa's captain, is prepared to risk being suspended for the World T20 final if it means overseeing victory against India. Du Plessis has twice been penalised for South Africa's slow over-rates in the tournament and was banned for their final group game against England, but said he would prioritise winning their semi-final above his own availability.
Du Plessis was not fit enough to lead in South Africa's opening World T20 game against Sri Lanka, with AB de Villiers captaining in his stead. He returned to take the reins for wins against New Zealand and Netherlands, both games resulting in close finishes, and on each occasion South Africa were deemed to have been two overs short.
"I'll always be on the side of looking at the situation in front of you now," du Plessis said when asked whether he would try to ensure South Africa kept time better. "You can't be playing or making decisions like it's in the future.
"When it comes to crunch time it's important that you take your time and make sure you and the bowler are very clear in your decision making, I feel that's the best way to go. With the conditions here maybe favouring spin a bit more, we can get some more overs out of JP and that will also make sure the over rate is a bit quicker."
In Chittagong, South Africa relied largely on their pace attack and Imran Tahir, although JP Duminy was also called upon. The dew caused problems for maintaining the over rate at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury and Sri Lanka's Dinesh Chandimal was suspended for the same offence during the Super 10 stage.
Du Plessis' stance contrasts with a strategy employed by Sri Lanka at the last World T20, when Kumar Sangakkara assumed official captaincy duties in place of Mahela Jayawardene, who could have faced a suspension, for their final Super 8 match against England.
Tahir and Duminy are likely to be South Africa's main slow-bowling options against India, with du Plessis referring to their "best eleven". However, with the Mirpur surface likely to offer greater purchase for spinners, Aaron Phangiso could come into contention. Du Plessis indicated the women's semi-final between South Africa and England played beforehand would inform their thinking.
"That decision we'll make tomorrow," du Plessis said. "We've decided that because there's a game before us, the ladies are playing, so we'll assess how the wicket is playing. If there's excessive spin, we'll definitely look at that option and if it's a good wicket we'll pick our best eleven."
The difference between the surfaces in Chittagong and Dhaka has been a talking point during the tournament, with South Africa and Sri Lanka, the qualifiers from Group 1, having to make a swift adjustment to the new conditions. India's spinners have taken a stranglehold on the opposition during four comprehensive wins and although du Plessis did not want to overplay the advantage, he conceded South Africa would be underdogs again - a status further enhanced by their dismal record in knockout competition.
"It's a huge thing," du Plessis said. "Obviously the wicket has been playing completely different to Chittagong, we've played all our games there and India have played all their games here, so from a conditions point of view they're much more used to it than we are. We've put in some hard practice on really abrasive surfaces, making sure that we almost over practice, with the ball spinning too much, so we get used to the spin. I think the wicket won't be that bad, I think it's been playing quite decently. I watched the game the other night and it looked like a good cricket wicket."
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Alan Gardner
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