Special Report by Debasish Datta (for The Samaya)
Now it will be Dale Steyn vs Chris Gayle and Gayle has a 215 under his name from the last game. So, the match on Friday between South Africa and West Indies will attract more cricket lovers to stick to their television sets!
South Africa’s Faf du Plessis has said the team will draw confidence from their good showing against the West Indies in the recent series at home when they lock horns in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday. He also said the team copped the blame for slow over rate and would stem the rot.
“Whatever we did against them in South Africa means absolutely nothing,” du Plessis said. “What we can do is draw confidence from that series win at home. From their perspective, they lost to us quite badly. But we have to be on top of our game on Friday and if we are not, they are the kind of team that will beat you on that day.”
Du Plessis smiled when he said it was unfortunate Zimbabwe had decided to bowl Chris Gayle into some really good form. “But we played them in a series in South Africa and we know the kind of team they are. They are very, very dangerous and have a lot of match-winners,” he said. “We are aware that we have to be on top of our game.
“Gayle is world-class player, one of the best. I know his ODI stats are probably not as good as his T20 stats but he is still a very dangerous player. On the day that he gets in and scores runs, it is going to be quickly and he takes the match away. It is very important for us to try and get him out early,” he said.
Talking about the fine for slow over-rate, du Plessis said the team would strive to see that de Villiers would not miss a World Cup game. “We are as a team guilty. It is unfortunate for us because we have a lot of seam bowlers in our attack and they will take a bit longer. We are all to blame for it not just one guy. We have tried everything we can. I wish there was an answer but if you have something, please share it,” he said.
Du Plessis said words like ‘should beat’ and ‘would beat’ are definitely not part of his cricketing lexicon. “I have been on the other side too many times. Nothing can be taken for granted. Any team can beat you on a day. There have been a couple of small teams that have done that in this tournament,” he said.
He said the team was aware of the criticism back home after losing to India by that huge margin of 130 runs. “If you lose like that, you should get some criticism. If it was a close game, it would have been a different thing. We haven’t had a lot of games where we have not battled till the end. It was poor that we lost by that margin. It was a poor performance and the public has a right to feel like that,” he said.
South Africa, however, are backing themselves to come good at SCG on Friday. “I saw the stats the other day. We scored the most hundreds in the last year. The average of the top six in the last year is also the highest. Consistency is always the biggest thing you look at. Stats don’t lie. Look at the positives, we have been batting brilliantly the last 16 months,” he said.
“It is very important. The younger guys look at senior players and see how they react, what they say and what they do. So the kind of stuff that you talk about is really important. If you start pointing fingers or blaming people or being negative, that filters to the team. It is like cancer. It is important to say the right things and stay positive,” he said.