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at the Union Buildings in Pretoria

Time for Proteas to shine

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Faf Du Plessis is prepared to risk personal glory if it means his Proteas can qualify for a final in a major ICC tournament. Photo by Prakash SINGH/AFP

Faf Du Plessis is prepared to risk personal glory if it means his Proteas can qualify for a final in a major ICC tournament.

Du Plessis will lead his team out at Shere Bangla National Stadium against India today in the second World T20 semi-final. Sri Lanka beat the West Indies by 27 runs last night on the Duckworth-Lewis method after a hail storm hit the Bangladeshi capital.

South Africa’s T20 captain has played only half of his team’s matches so far in this campaign, missing the first game against finalists Sri Lanka due to a hamstring injury and being suspended for the third match against England.

The latter is of particular concern because it was the second time Du Plessis had contravened ICC regulations on over rates.

Both matches had close finishes with the skipper spending time with his bowlers before each delivery at the back end of the innings to get the fielders in the correct position.

Due to the intense nature of a semi-final, in which every ball is potentially a defining moment, there is every chance that today’s match could be another tense affair, leaving Du Plessis with a personal dilemma. Another slow-over rate violation would automatically rule him out of Sunday’s final, but the captain is not focusing on that, instead only on helping his team to get there.

“I’ll always be on the side of looking at the situation in front of you now. You can’t be playing or making decisions like it’s in the future,” Du Plessis said.

“When it comes to crunch time it’s important that you take your time and make sure you and the bowler are clear in your decision-making.”

Du Plessis said he did not have a laissez-faire attitude to the regulations. Quite the contrary, and he will be hoping that the make-up of his bowling line-up for the semi-final helps the Proteas get through the overs quicker, especially as dew and mist are not major factors in Dhaka, as they were in Chittagong during South Africa’s group matches.

“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,” Du Plessis said.

Even though AB de Villiers has taken the reins in Du Plessis’ absence in two games during the tournament, it is unlikely South Africa will employ shrewd tactics like the Sri Lankans have done previously to avoid censure. Although the islanders at the best of times have four captains on the field directing play, they appointed Kumar Sangakkara as the official captain during the last World T20 when their regular skipper, Mahela Jayawardene, had a potential suspension hanging over him heading into their final Super 8 match against England.

While this is a street-wise approach, mind-games like these are potential distracting factors internally, and South Africa can ill afford to be concentrating on side issues with so much at stake. Du Plessis emphasised this fact yesterday and said his team had a clear focus on the task ahead.

“These T20 tournaments are all about what you do on the day. It’s important for me and the team to go in with a fresh mindset. We are playing India on the day and we have had huge success against them this year.

“We have been through some really tough situations in this World Cup and been in games that we shouldn’t have probably won, but our resilience and never-say-die attitude has stood us in good stead.

“We are looking forward to the challenge and we are expecting the pressure. Every game you play for your country, there is always pressure. It’s just about making sure that we do the basics really well.” - The Star


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