Kimberley - The Proteas need to improve their game substantially to win the one-day international (ODI) series against New Zealand, said stand-in captain Faf du Plessis on Monday.
“We know that we have to play very close to our full potential to beat New Zealand because they are dangerous one-day side,” Du Plessis said on the eve of the second ODI in Kimberley.
“We are under some pressure but it’s a nice kind of pressure and it will suit us as we were a little bit relaxed in that first game. Now it’s a nice little challenge for us.”
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: SA v NZ, 1st ODI
The Black Caps took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, defeating the Proteas by one wicket in Paarl on Saturday.
ODI captain AB de Villiers was given a two match suspension for his team’s slow over rate in that match. In the circumstances, Du Plessis had been given the responsibility and said it was a “nice surprise” for him.
“Luckily, it was only a few weeks ago that I was captain in the Twenty20 series so it’s still nice and fresh in my mind,” he said.
“I also have a bunch of experienced players in the team, like Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla. They’re both great leaders and will be there to assist me and I can bounce ideas off them.”
Du Plessis said De Villiers would leave a huge gap but it was also an opportunity to test the batting depth in the side.
“You cannot replace AB - he’s definitely one of the world’s best players - but it is an opportunity for someone else to step in and show off their skills.
“It’s also a chance for us to look at our options going forward especially looking towards the Champions Trophy in England in June.”
Du Plessis said he hoped the wicket would assist the seamers and offer some pace and bounce but he would be the sixth bowler in the side and turn his arm if necessary.
“If I feel the wicket is a bit slow or maybe we need to rush through a couple of overs, I will bowl,” he said.
“I’ve been practising so hopefully I will get a few overs in. The slower the wicket, the more it suits the New Zealanders’ style of play, so hopefully we will have a little bit of extra bounce for our bowlers.” Du Plessis said he was not concerned about the team’s performance in Paarl as their batting had been consistently good over the past year or so but, unusually, none of them were able to crack on to a decent score on Saturday.
“Our batting has been solid in the past but our top order has to take responsibility,” he said.
“One of our top six needs to get close to a 100 which we didn’t’ do in previous game.”
The team also gave away 18 extras - 15 wides and three no-balls - which extended the match by an extra three overs, accounting for some of the time for which they were penalised. Rory Kleinveldt was chiefly responsible bowling nine wides but both Dale Steyn and Ryan McLaren also made their contributions.
“If we cut down the extras then that in itself will be a huge improvement,” Du Plessis said.
“The bowlers are old enough now to know what they have to do and I’m confident they will be fine. There was also a bit of extra reverse swing on the day and it was just a case of getting used to it.”