Cape Town – Perhaps there’ll be some
element of fast-tracking risk involved, but if Faf du Plessis is able to
bolster South Africa in the St Kitts leg of their triangular one-day
international series, it would be a particularly timely development.
The Proteas’ commendable 47-run triumph
over Australia in Guyana on Tuesday wasn’t all plain sailing … and not just
because their collective batting effort was shaky for the second game on the
Fickle batsman Rilee Rossouw painfully
damaged a shoulder in a fielding dive right onto the rope, and seemed a major
doubt at the time of writing for the next challenge – again versus the Aussies
– at Warner Park on Saturday (19:00 SA time).
But stalwart Du Plessis, who has been a
spectator in the initial part of the trip as he gradually mends the broken
finger suffered back on April 26 in the Indian Premier League, is reportedly
primed for an imminent return to action – the squad has no other specialist
batsman available as things stand and nagging issues over the depth of competence
with the blade in the XI anyway.
So even if he is not quite 100 percent yet,
Du Plessis may be urged to bite the bullet and take up a top-order position at
the Basseterre venue.
He is an experienced enough customer to be
able to hit the ground running after a few weeks’ layoff, and if he gets the
green light to play would have extra motivation to aid the Proteas’ quest to
rub further salt into Aussie wounds.
Du Plessis is only 56 runs short of reaching
3,000 in ODIs, and if he could overcome rustiness to reach that mark on
Saturday, would become fifth fastest South African to the milestone, in his 85th
turn at the ODI crease.
Ahead of him already are the world
record-holder Hashim Amla (an incredible 57 innings), Gary Kirsten (72), Boeta
Dippenaar (79) and Graeme Smith (80).
The player, 31, traditionally excels
against Australia – he averages 44 against them as opposed to an overall figure
of a touch under 40 and is well remembered for his purple patch against the men
from Down Under in a Harare triangular in mid-2014, when he notched successive
scores of 106, 126 and 96.
Du Plessis is a core component of South
Africa’s limited-overs plans, and would automatically restore an element of
stability on paper to their line-up, although Farhaan Behardien’s effectively
match-winning 62 from the No 6 berth was a very welcome development on Tuesday.
That the Proteas could win with a bonus
point was an important extra feather in their caps; it could almost serve the
purpose of an extra victory in log terms when it comes to determining which of
SA, Australia and West Indies contest the Bridgetown, Barbados, final on June
Caribbean commentators have suggested that
pitches will become progressively more reliable for batting now that the
tournament moves onward from Guyana’s awkwardly slow Providence Stadium track.
By winning on Tuesday, though, the Proteas
snapped a sequence of three ODI losses on the trot against the Aussies, and the
sudden table-toppers should feel pretty confident about success in the fast
turnaround follow-up …
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing