Losing Dale Steyn ahead of the World Cup opener against England doesn’t mean that the Proteas will go on the defensive at The Oval, says captain Faf du Plessis.
The 35-year-old Steyn has not yet recovered from the shoulder injury that saw him return home early from the IPL, and he is likely to sit out the second match against Bangladesh on Sunday as well.
But while Du Plessis said on Wednesday in London that the South Africans will have to go to “Plan B and C” due to Steyn’s absence, they still look for wickets against the tournament hosts.
It appears as if the main battle for Steyn’s spot is between all-rounders Dwaine Pretorius and Chris Morris, although some critics – like former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith – believe wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi should join Imran Tahir in the attack.
“It (not having Steyn) does change (the plan). As I said, one of our X-factors, potentially we have is a really, really strong attack in terms of pace. Steyn, Rabada, Ngidi is a real, real threat in English conditions. So that changes,” Du Plessis said at the pre-match press conference.
“As I said to you guys before, that’s Plan A for the World Cup in terms of our balance, what we’re looking to achieve.
“Now it’s just a real reshuffle and looking to Plan B and C.”
The much-vaunted England batting line-up is something to behold, with the likes of Jason Roy, Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan backed up by Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali.
But even without Steyn, the South Africans will be hunting for wickets.
“Yeah, for us, I mean, England is a team that plays very aggressively. We all know that. So for us as a leadership group, it’s trying to find, how can we be most attacking and trying to get wickets,” Du Plessis said.
“Obviously that was with Dale included, but that changed now, so we’ll look at set up our team to try to make sure we can get guys on the team that can get wickets.
“There’s no point in trying to play a defensive style of cricket against England because they have shown that they can take any bowling attack on the day.
“So yeah, we’ll try and pick our team to try and be as positive in team selection as possible that we can be.”
England are the favourites for the match and the tournament as a whole, and Du Plessis pointed out that it means his own team can play with greater freedom.
“Whether you are favourites or not, you still have to play good cricket,” he said.
“They deservedly have the tag because they are the home nation and have consistently played good cricket.
“But you will face such different opposition through this tournament so it is about making sure you stay focussed for the whole tournament.
“England are the favourites, so if it means on the day there is less pressure on us, then we can play freely.
“We are going in as underdogs, and if that releases some players in the team, then that is great.”