'Faf's experience will be key in India'
The Proteas head coach Mark Bouher admits its giving him a headache. A 16-man squad departed for India on Sunday for a short tour that encompasses three One-Day Internationals, the first of which takes place in Dharamsala on Friday.
South Africa swept the Australians 3-0 in the ODI series which finished in Potchefstroom on Saturday, with the likes of Janneman Malan, Heinrich Klaasen, Kyle Verreynne and Anrich Nortje all playing starring roles.
Klaasen and Malan made match winning centuries in the first two matches and the former added two half-centuries in the last two games to pick up the Man of the Series award. With Du Plessis unlikely to be around by the time of the next World Cup - which will be held in India in 2023 - there maybe some wondering at the wisdom of taking him on tour.
“India will be a tough test, in different conditions,” said Boucher.
“A lot of the guys haven’t played cricket in India. When you go to India, you need a balance between youth and experience.”
He also outlined Du Plessis’ record, that includes 10 matches in India, where in nine innings he’s scored 394 runs at an average of 65.66. In Du Plessis’ last innings in India, he scored an unbeaten 133 in Mumbai in 2015.
“Why would you not want to have Faf in the set-up? He’s done well in those conditions. Just him being in the squad adds a lot of value and experience.”
Boucher acknowledged that the series win against Australia was crucial in lifting the confidence of the players at the end of what has been a very difficult home season.
“What’s impressed me is that the guys have responded to the messages that we have been sending out from a batting and a bowling perspective. They were prepared to change their mindsets a bit and (we) also had a lot of different players stepping up.
“The confidence is nice and high. India will be a very tough challenge, they are a very tough side, but we’ll keep working hard. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, we are at the bottom of the ladder, we’ve got to keep climbing up. Most of the players know, respect and understand that. There is still a lot of hard work to be done.”
Malan was added to the squad on Saturday as cover for Temba Bavuma, who’s hamstring strain, Boucher said, is likely to keep him out of the first match on Friday. “It’s good to see that Janneman has put his hand up, he’s one of those youngsters who’ve come through and played great cricket and taken his chance,” he said of the 23-year-old, who’s unbeaten 129 in Bloemfontein last Wednesday was one of the individual highlights of the season from a Proteas player.
Meanwhile, India named their squad yesterday, leaving out vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who suffered a calf injury during India’s trip to New Zealand.
The Black Caps beat Virat Kohli’s team 3-0 in the ODIs.
Boucher said the South African players would follow the lead of the England players, who are on tour in Sri Lanka and forego handshakes over concerns about the coronavirus. The South African team will be accompanied by Cricket SA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra, to keep them informed about the latest developments concerning the virus.
“It is a concern, we will do the same thing (as England). It’s a way of stopping anything happening to our guys, it is a sign of respect for the players around you not to pass on something you may have,” said Boucher.
Quinton de Kock (capt), Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lundi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj.@shockerhess