Johannesburg - Following his second century in the One Day International series against the West Indies, Rilee Rossouw says he feels like belongs in the Proteas team.
“I feel better. In the beginning it was a bit tough because I was intimidated playing with legends of the game like Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn,” Rossouw said after the fifth and final ODI in Centurion on Wednesday.
He scored 132 from 98 balls as South Africa posted 361 for five in their rain-reduced 42-over match, leaving the 25-year-old in buoyant mood ahead of next week's departure for the ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The left-hander was presented with the opening role in the absence of injured wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock in the first four ODIs against the West Indies. Rossouw did not start well, making a duck in the first match in Durban, but he responded with a maiden hundred in South Africa's historic 439 for two at the Wanderers in the next match.
While he was out for single-figures in the next two games, Rossouw capped it off with his latest ton, increasing his average to 29.71 from 14 ODIs.
“You want to feel part of the team, and as a batsman you don't until you score runs. I feel a lot more settled now,” he said.
With the return of De Kock to the lineup, Rossouw could drop out of the side with the top six batting spots virtually cemented. Rossouw, however, could be employed as the number seven batsman at the expense of Farhaan Behardien who, in three knocks, scored 12 twice and faced just two balls in the final ODI.
Proteas coach Russell Domingo would have to weigh up his options in that finishing role and consider a batsman who could also contribute with the ball.
Stand-in ODI captain for the final ODI against the Windies, Amla said Rossouw demonstrated maturity in his innings at SuperSport Park.
“Batting is about partnerships. Once you put partnerships together it opens up the game,” Amla said.
“When Rilee got to the crease, batting wasn't very easy, but once he got going - he's an instinctively attacking player - he unleashed as the game progressed.”
Coming in at number four, Rossouw and Amla began scoring at a moderate rate, bringing up their fifty partnership off 64 balls. They cut loose towards the climax of the innings, eventually amassing a South African record third-wicket partnership of 247 from just 181 balls.
“We had a good partnership going so that allowed us to express ourselves at the end.
“It wasn't easy to bat upfront where there was some bounce. Fortunately, we got some loose balls and we were on 59 after the first 10 overs which I don't think was a true reflection of the surface.”