Centurion: South African captain Faf Du Plessis warned his team not to take India lightly as the two teams prepare for the second Test set to start on Saturday.
“We expect a huge performance from them as they are a very strong team. We don’t want to take a step back and rely on a 1-0 lead as if you do that they will pounce on you.” Du Plessis said in the pre-match conference.
du Plessis and boys took first strike as they wanted to adapt to the early morning conditions. It all started with a long chat at the match wicket with curator Bryan Bloy as Faf and the likes of Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander taking a close look at the pitch.
“I expect a good cricketing wicket with pace and bounce but it certainly looks browner than the previous one,” said Du Plessis.
With Dale Steyn out, the South African skipper said that he still hasn’t decided what combination he will opt for,
Ngidi might be the fourth pacer for this game, but another option is the all-rounder in Chris Morris. While the bowling is already good with the trio of Morkel, Rabada and Philander, having Morris would add to the batting – a must with the wicket set to play fast.
At the nets, it was all about going through the motions for the batsmen with the likes of Dean Elgar, Faf and AB de Villiers all having longish sessions with AB also discussing some strategies with Elgar.
Temba Bavuma was also seen having a long session against the net bowlers first and then he took some throwdowns. It will be interesting to see if he does break into the XI as Keshav Maharaj is almost expected to sit out.
“The team that we selected last week was what we thought was the best team, Dale Steyn is among the world’s best bowler and he brings a lot to the table. With him missing, it will be a tough selection but it is a nice headache to have,” Du Plessis said, when asked about the team combinations.
He praised AB De Villiers, saying that he is hungry to do well and that is good news for the team.
Fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander were too singled out for praise, given their performance in the previous game.
“Rabada is a strong athlete and a strong bowler, he can bowl throughout the day, his best is yet to come as he is still learning.”
“Vernon has worked on his fitness and has really improved as a bowler, he wanted the ball the whole time and never got tired, which was good to see.” Du Plessis added.
The South African team enjoyed themselves with a longish game of one-touch football before they got down to some serious fielding drills. While some of the boys worked on their slip catching skills, others took high catches.
Done with fielding drills, while the batsmen moved to the nets adjacent to the ground, the four-pronged pace attack of Rabada, Morkel, Philander and Lungi Ngidi could be seen bowling next to the match wicket with shortened run-ups. It was more about just keeping the rhythm going.
Hosts will be looking to seal the deal in Centurion, a place where they have always performed well.