Zimbabwe v South Africa, Tri-series, Harare

Du Plessis in the form of his career - de Villiers

Liam Brickhill in Harare

September 4, 2014

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Faf du Plessis was solid against the spinners, Zimbabwe v South Africa, tri-series, Harare, September 4, 2014
AB de Villiers believes that Faf du Plessis has locked down the No.3 spot for the foreseeable future © AFP
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Faf du Plessis' form has helped to make South Africa's trip north across the Limpopo river a very pleasant one. With his 121 today, du Plessis has now registered three centuries in his last four ODIs, to go with two fifties in the Bulawayo ODIs and a 98 in the Test match here a month ago. His captain, AB de Villiers, rightly believes that du Plessis is in the best form of his international career, and that South Africa have their No.3 slot locked down in one-day cricket.

"It's certainly the best form he's shown at international level, but I've always known that he was capable of doing that," de Villiers said. "So it's great to see him coming through like that, and at a crucial time. Leading up to a big World Cup, it's great to have our No.3 slot cemented down now by a guy who's in great form and a guy with a great cricket brain. He played exceptionally well again today, in a tricky situation against Zimbabwe again. It set us up nicely for a good ODI win."

De Villiers was also pleased that his middle order was able to build on du Plessis' efforts, with Rilee Rossouw finally off his international duck and JP Duminy registering his first limited-overs fifty of the tour.

"It was good to see Rilee get in today and get 30 and bowl a couple of overs. We laid the foundation up front there, and it freed up the middle order a little bit. It's difficult to go three or four down early in the innings and expect them to fix everything, which we've done in the past. So to get a nice foundation laid out for us like that always frees up the middle order to really showcase their talents."

South Africa tinkered slightly with their line-up in this game, leaving Imran Tahir out of the side in order to bring Rossouw in, and replacing the injured Ryan McLaren with Wayne Parnell. De Villiers explained that their thinking had been to bat Zimbabwe out of the game, while the McLaren-Parnell swap was clearly a straightforward one.

"It was just the situation we were confronted with because of the whole bonus point issue and this and that," de Villiers said. "We felt it was really important to get runs on the board, which worked exceptionally well. We sort of batted them out of the game and that's exactly what we were after.

"Macky [McLaren] is an amazing performer for us and he has been for quite some time now so it's sad to lose him, but in the same breath, Parny [Parnell] is a very capable replacement. No one is irreplaceable. We know Macky will be back in three or four weeks' time and he'll come straight back into the side, but for now we've got more than enough depth to fill that spot. Parny showed today - he had a very good game, I was very impressed with his bowling. We all know what he can offer with the bat. He can score a few at the end there. It was a straight swap for me, no panic stations there."

This match was South Africa's last against Zimbabwe until the World Cup in Australia next year, where they will be in the same group. De Villiers suggested that despite their growing pains, Zimbabwe remained a dangerous one-day side and although the South Africans would make an effort to mingle with their hosts before departing, they were not about to offer too many tips to a side that could prove a handful on their day.

"They're still a dangerous team with lots of talent. They're obviously still working on a few things, trying to get a few things in place. Leading up the World Cup as well, I think all the teams are focusing on that now. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Zimbabwe's cricket. I think they've got a lot of talent, they just need to get the combinations in place, and a few other things. Get their batters in the runs. They've got all the talent in the world, they just need to get into the runs. That's what it comes down to.

"We have not had a lot of time to mingle but I have spoken to a few of them - Brendan Taylor is one, we go a long way back. At the end of the day we're playing them in the World Cup so you don't want to share too much. We're good friends with a few of them, but cricketing wise we're playing them in the World Cup so we don't want to share too many things. There's more than enough time for socialising after the Aussie game - Brendan has already told me that a few of them will be coming to watch. They're after all our neighbours in Africa so we're huge supporters of their cricket. Just not in the World Cup."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Chris_P on (September 5, 2014, 21:09 GMT)

@Rajesh_india_1990. Just had a look at Sth Africa's efforts in the Indian ODI's recently,

DeKock averaging 114 SR 96, Miller SR 154, AB Ave 63, SR 124, Duminy SR 140, Philander SR 233, McLaren SR 120.

T20 SR's for ODI's against a "quality" attack?

Credibility issues here, methinks.

Posted by android_user on (September 5, 2014, 9:29 GMT)

NewZealand.. India ????? high quality bowling lineups ???? I'd doubt that...

n yeah.... SA are very consistent... across all formats.. against all teams...

Best of luck to SA!

Posted by Rajesh_india_1990 on (September 5, 2014, 8:04 GMT)

He will be exposed against high quality bowling line ups like India,Newzland,England.....

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 7:44 GMT)

DuPlesses was always as immensely talented as DeVilliers himself but just like De Villiers early days he too lacked self belief. He used to use hard hands & tried to be too correct but now he is being himself and showing full flair of his range of shots. Further he is now using flexible wrists to control the trajectory & to maneuver strokes away from fielders - this was best demonstrated in the way he avoided mid off no of times to collect 2s & 4s in yesterday's inns.

Only thing that he still needs to work on is to spot slower delivery from bowlers hand and to change stroke effectively for it instead of getting foxed by slower one.

All in all his batting has simply matured which is great for Proteas as they have got someone to really fill the big boots of the legend Kallis.

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 7:31 GMT)

Du Plesses was always as immensely talented as DeVilliers himself but just like DeVilliers early days DUplesses lacked self belief. Earlier he used hard hands trying to be too correct. .....Now he is being to himself in batting showing his natural game, using flexible wrists he is controlling the elevation & maoeuring the direction of his strokes - this was best demonstrated in the way he avoided mid off & long off for 2s & 4s. Only thing he still needs to learn is to pick slower ball from hand & to effectively change shot for it instead of getting foxed by it.

All in all DuPlesses batting has matured. SA had filled Kallis big shoes.

Posted by Rajesh_india_1990 on (September 5, 2014, 7:04 GMT)

Well scoring centuries aganist minnows like zimbabwe and the team which lost to zimbabwe is not a right way to judge whether he is in form of his life or not..he has to prove his class against high bowling line ups like INDIA,NEWZLAND,ENGLAND......

Posted by Lloydster on (September 5, 2014, 6:54 GMT)

If lessons are to be learnt for SA in this tournament then they have some serious issues- firstly AB is not a captain, proof once more as they struggled against a Zim side ranked 10th or so... poor bowling options ,field placings, batting mayhem. Aus exposed their shortcomings yet again. The Bowlers in general were not up to scratch and the tail batting was atrocious. They allow themselves to believe in this false sense of security by beating Zim and Oz (1 game) that all is well. Domingo is clueless , end of. SA will once again be exposed to the very weaknesses by the likes of Pakistan, England and India. Why .....because they have not learnt to move forward. I love SA cricket thats why I am critical.

Posted by SudiptaS on (September 5, 2014, 5:18 GMT)

I wonder if SA missed a trick by not making him the Test Captain...You shouldn't make someone captain just coz of color...its long since apartheid....

Posted by   on (September 5, 2014, 2:41 GMT)

He captured my attention after those two 4th innings centuries against Australia and India.... He is Mr.Reliable , didn't choke in pressure situations like other SA players . If SA has any chance to win WC knockout matches he has very BIG role to play. I wonder Zimbabwe would have won if Faf got out cheaply !!!

Posted by android_user on (September 5, 2014, 0:31 GMT)

Other than that Faf you're a truly gifted player

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