Faf: I made a mental error, but extremely proud of how hard Proteas fought
Proteas / 7 January 2020, 6:42pm / Ashfak Mohamed at Newlands
CAPE TOWN – Faf du Plessis said that while his rash shot on the final day against England was a “mental error”, he was proud of the fight shown by the Proteas in a losing cause at Newlands.
South Africa started Tuesday needing 312 runs to win with eight wickets in hand, but more realistically, needed to bat out 90 overs to draw the second Test.
They came up short by just 8.2 overs in the end as they were bowled out for 248 to lose by 189 runs, which saw England level the series at 1-1 with two Tests to go.
While opener Pieter Malan showed tremendous application in his gritty 84, Du Plessis lost his cool when he opted to sweep spinner Dominic Bess, only to find Joe Denly at square leg with his score on 19.
There were still about 70 overs left in the day, so his dismissal came at the wrong time for the home side.
“The hindsight of that, with everyone around the bat and the square leg and midwicket up, would be to just probably go over the guy, because there is no one on the fence to catch you there,” Du Plessis said at the post-match press conference.
“But to sweep it in the middle of the two was a mental error at that stage. Generally when you have a few guys around the bat and the ball spinning out of the rough, you try and manipulate the field a little bit by getting one or two of them away from your bat, and then you can play normally again.
“But in that situation, obviously all that we needed was for me to just drop anchor.”
RECAP | DAY 5#ICYMI The afternoon session is underway, with South Africa still needing a further 268 runs to win, with 6 wickets in hand.
The Proteas made a good fist of it, though, and nearly pulled off a miracle to save the game. It looked a distinct possibility when Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen kept England at bay, but the SA wicket-keeper also surrendered meekly when he pulled a long-hop from Joe Denly to Zak Crawley at midwicket for 50.
“I suppose you could say the same with Quinny – we were going really well there, and it felt like things were under control. For us to probably (gift) England two wickets there, on a wicket that was still good, was probably going to be the difference at the end of the day,” Du Plessis said.
“(The Proteas lost it) probably (due to a lack of) first-innings runs. We got into position where we should’ve got a little bit more. The pitch was a little bit tricky on day one and two for batting… We got into a position there where we would’ve liked to be even. That’s 50 runs there.
“There were a lot of small margins in this Test match, but for me, extremely proud of how hard we fought. You never want to lose Test matches – of course you don’t want to.
“But the chat that we had to our group last night or this morning is that we will fight with everything that we’ve got within us to try and make England do everything and anything to beat us.
“And they have. They threw the kitchen sink at us, and just towards the end of the day unfortunately, there had to be a loser. It has been a fantastic five days of cricket, where both teams were on top, and in some sessions on par. Probably for the majority of the Test match, England were better than us.”