Christchurch - The Proteas are slowly building up their intensity ahead of their opening match of the Cricket World Cup against Zimbabwe in Hamilton on Sunday.
The Proteas play their last warm-up match against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval on Wednesday, but already have one eye on their tournament-opener against their Southern African neighbours.
“We have played quite a lot of cricket in the last month or so, we are ready to play now,” Faf du Plessis said at the squad’s optional training session on Tuesday.
“It’s difficult to get yourself motivated with these warm-up games as you would do in a normal one-day international. The nice thing is that we haven’t really tried to be intense about it because we do understand that it’s quite a long tournament, mentally you need to be fresh throughout the competition.
“Yesterday was quite low-key, it was like a practice session for us but to get over the line and to do all the things we did yesterday was good practice,” he explained. “With New Zealand tomorrow we will play with a little bit more intensity because it is getting closer to that first match but we will still gradually build it up.”
He says the squad is anxious to get its campaign started after months of ODI cricket and preparation.
“It’s taken so long,” Du Plessis admitted. “The build-up to the World Cup especially has almost been a year. We are very excited as a team, we are ready, we have played a lot of cricket and we just want to get going now. The important thing that we are doing really well at the moment is that we are not looking too much into these warm-up games. All our focus is geared up towards that first game against Zimbabwe.”
The top-order batsman says New Zealand’s big-hitters will pose another good challenge for South Africa’s bowlers who are in search of some competitive death-over practice, an area they have worked hard on over the last few months.
“Hopefully we get an opportunity to get some match intensity going,” he said of the expectations from Wednesday’s match. “Whether it’s bowling at the death, or we get another situation where we are chasing. It’s difficult to get match intensity, but if we can get a match situation where we can learn something, that will be good. Hopefully New Zealand can put us in a position where we can learn something from the game and take it into our first opener.”