Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Faf du Plessis has declared himself fit to return to action after a long lay-off due to the concussion he suffered during the PSL in June. du Plessis, who was also forced to miss the Hundred owing to persisting impact of his collision with a team-mate, believes "today is the last hurdle" before he is back playing cricket.
"I went over for the first match [in the Hundred] to try and play, but I still suffered quite severe concussion symptoms quite badly and especially with the batting it got worse," du Plessis, who will lead the St Lucia Kings in the CPL, said. "It's been three or four weeks since then [during] which I have worked hard in trying to get back to normal with a good rehab programme, and specialists in England helped me with. Today is the last hurdle when [I am] just making sure I pass the full practice at full intensity. And if I do that, then I'll be ready to play [his team's CPL opener]."
du Plessis stated the injury was a lot more serious that he expected initially, having spent close to three months on the sidelines. "It has been a tough three months," he said. "I didn't expect it to take this long and I also didn't expect it to be quite as severe. But I feel like I am at the end of it, which really is pleasing for myself.
"There's a lot of cricket this year that I still need to play. As I mentioned earlier, missing three months of cricket is not something that is very nice. So I am just really looking forward to getting back out on the field."
"On the field, I would rely a lot on the other players to help me," he said. "I am generally a guy that asks a lot of questions. In any way, I ask for help and guidance along the way. Daren Sammy is one of those guys, he is a very experienced leader within the side so we will tap into his plan a lot. Andy has worked with the side as well, so we'll tap into his brain a lot. And then on the field, you rely on your experience as a captain to make those instinctive, gut decisions that you would need to make when you know it is so hard in the middle."
After the CPL, du Plessis will reunite with the Chennai Super Kings for the second half of the IPL season in UAE. Having opened the batting for them in each of the seven matches during the first half, he had piled up 320 runs to be the third-highest run-getter, including hitting four half-centuries. du Plessis hoped to continue the consistent run while also insisting the change of venue would suit his side's balance.
"I think our squad at Chennai is better balanced for the Dubai leg than it was for the previous [half of] IPL," he said. "Second thing [is that] we had been playing some really good cricket in the first half of the IPL, so I hope that form is something that can hopefully continue - similar to myself, [I] had a really strong first half of the IPL. So I'd like to continue [from] where I left off. But for now, it is just about getting back to playing cricket.
"As I said, it's been a really tough three months. I didn't expect it [the recovery] to take that long. I think in general we cricketers don't know too much about concussion. Normally, [you] get hit on the helmet and then someone checks you out - then you either continue batting or you are ready in about a week's time! So my expectation was that it was going to take anything between two and four weeks, which obviously it's been triple of that. It has been a tough for me, but thankfully I am at the end of it now."