CAPE TOWN – Proteas coach Ottis Gibson has stressed that despite the disappointment of losing captain Faf du Plessis for the third and final Test against Pakistan at the Wanderers, the home team remain “hungry to finish the series off on a high”.
Du Plessis, shortly after being named Man of the Match for leading his team to a nine-wicket victory which sealed the series for the Proteas on Sunday morning at Newlands, was suspended for one Test and fined 20 percent of his match fees for maintaining a slow over-rate in the Cape Town Test.
It follows on from when Du Plessis was previously been found guilty of a minor over-rate offence during the Centurion Test against India, which ended on January 17 last year, which constituted his second offence within a 12-month period.
“It is disappointing losing Faf, he plays am immense role in the team both on and off the field. We will be meeting with the selectors to decide on a suitable replacement but I have no doubt that whoever is selected will make the best use of the opportunity,” Gibson said.
Although the series has been wrapped up already, there is a burning desire within the squad to complete a 3-0 whitewash over Pakistan.
South Africa were in a similar position last season against India after clinching the series after the second Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion. But, with the series won already, the selectors opted to change the line-up for the final Test at the Bullring with young all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo being given an opportunity.
Du Plessis’ suspension means that at least one enforced change will now be made, but Gibson was wary of any further tinkering.
“Last year we had a mission within the team to win 3-0 against India to help us get back to No 1, but then we got up to Johannesburg and we changed the team. And then we lost that Test match. We are aware of that, and we have a mission to not only win the next Test, but also the two against Sri Lanka as well,” he said.
“We have seen in the past how players have stepped up when needed and I know the same will apply for the third Test. The squad is hungry to finish the series off on a high.”
The most likely replacement for Du Plessis is the uncapped young Cape Cobras batsman Zubayr Hamza. The stylish right-hander has been with the Proteas since the start of the series, and even remained with the squad during the second Test despite the Cobras playing a four-day Domestic fixture this past weekend.
Hamza also took a good catch on the boundary towards the close on the third day after coming on to the field a substitute for the injured Aiden Markram.
Gibson is confident that Markram, who did not open the batting in the second Test due to a sore right thigh, and Hashim Amla, who was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the arm, will all be ready for the Wanderers Test starting on Friday.@ZaahierAdams