Cape Town - Pakistan levelled the two-match KFC T20 series with a six-run victory over the Proteas at Sahara Park Newlands in Cape Town on Friday, their first win in four attempts over the last few weeks.
Despite the fact that the South African bowling attack failed to fire for the first time in a long while, one of the biggest positives for the Proteas has been the opening partnership between Hashim Amla and the youthful wicketkeeper, Quinton de Kock.
“Quinney and Hash are gelling really nicely, with Quinney being aggressive and Hash being calm one, looking to bat through the innings,” Faf du Plessis, captain of the Blue Label Telecoms South African T20 side, said at a press conference after the match at Newlands.
The pair have notched up 183 runs in the last four innings, with scores of 58, 72, 37 and 16. They average 45.75 runs for the first wicket at a strike-rate of 138.64 runs per 100 balls and the pair look set to stay.
Test captain, Graeme Smith, was sent home from the UAE after the second ODI due to ‘post-concussion syndrome’ after taking a knock on the head from the tall left-arm seamer, Mohammad Irfan, during the test series.
Not wanting to break-up what seems to be turning out to be a successful opening partnership, Du Plessis was quizzed on the possibility of Smith returning to the side, perhaps in the No 3 position.
“No, pretty much what you see now is the combinations going to the World Cup, it’s pretty settled,” Du Plessis said.
“Our back-up batsman at the moment is Henry Davids, he’s done really well up at the top of the order, he had a good Champions League. So I think our top 6 is pretty settled and stable and will stay the same as we have a really good balance in the top 6 so at least up until the World Cup, I don’t see Smith coming in there,” added Du Plessis.
South Africa made three changes from the side that contested the first three T20 matches (two in Dubai and the first at the Wanderers) with AB de Villiers returning at the expense of Henry Davids, Lonwabo Tsotsobe being replaced by David Wiese and Aaron Phangiso being given a run at the expense of Imran Tahir.
“A lot of teams would have been happy just to select the same side but Imran has been brilliant and he has been a thorn in their side and they have struggled to play him so for us to leave him out, it is not a case of just resting him, it’s about looking at Phangy, he’s also important for us,” said Du Plessis.
“Any back-up player in a squad of 15 is really important when you go to a World Cup,” said Du Plessis.
“It’s quite unfair when a guy gets injured and then he (back-up player) gets thrown into the mix when he hasn’t played any games in the last year or so,” Du Plessis added.
“So, we made three changes today to give the guys some international exposure because everything for me is about that World Cup, we are gearing towards that and we are still happy with where we are because out of the last nine or ten games, we have won eight so that is a fantastic effort,” stated the T20 captain.
The biggest advantage for the Proteas has been De Kock’s attitude of late, and Du Plessis said, “the last while, Quinney has been confident, he’s just expressing himself now.”
“When you young like that and you have the talent, which he’s always had and everyone knew that, now he’s just going out there and playing like he knows best and he’s a really dangerous batter, it’s really good for us when he’s playing like that because it means we get the best out of him. We also encourage that, for him to play with his flair,” concluded Du Plessis.
The Proteas begin the three-match ODI series at the same venue on Sunday before moving to Port Elizabeth on Wednesday (27 November) and concluding the tour at SuperSport Park in Centurion next Saturday (30 November).