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Cricket | SA Team

A night when 'everything went wrong'

The charmed life of Faf du Plessis suffered a slight hiccup on Tuesday when his debut match as skipper of South Africa's one-day international side went awry.

His team went down by 27 runs after being in a strong position to level the series against New Zealand.

"It was a little bit different to the first series I captained in the Twenty20s, when everything went perfectly to the plan," the candid Du Plessis said after the match.

"That's part of the game though. and, especially as a young captain, there are a lot of things I can take from the loss."

South Africa were in a strong position after being set a target of 280. At the end of 25 overs they were comfortable at 135/1 compared with the Black Caps' 106/2 at the same stage.

Graeme Smith (66) and Colin Ingram (79) shared a fiery 129-run second-wicket stand, off 135 balls, and both looked set for centuries until Smith was run out.

"Graeme getting run out and then me following a couple balls later put a lot of pressure on the younger guys," Du Plessis said.

"It was a tough task for the guys coming in, so that was definitely the turning point. It would have been nice if Colin could have batted through, but it was definitely myself and Graeme going so closely together and leaving a young team with not a lot of experienced heads around that was our undoing."

He said he was remiss in not taking into account the match situation at the time he came into bat.

"It was one of those nights where everything went wrong. There was so much more time left in the game than I actually realised and so, in my case, I asked myself afterwards if my run was really necessary – and the answer was no. So there is a another big learning point for me."

The Proteas' bowling performance had also been erratic on the night and Du Plessis said it was another area that needed to be beefed up.

"We bowled really well in batches, but also bowled not so well in batches and we gave away 20 or 30 extra runs.

"Our thinking and our bowling towards our set plans is something we need to improve. Also our batting... you won't play a lot of cricket where you find you get five run-outs in an innings."

Du Plessis was part of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup team which was knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals, ironically also by New Zealand. It was a match where the pressure fell on his inexperienced head to try and save the day.

He empathised with debutant Farhaan Behardien and the other youngsters in the side who found themselves in a similar situation in the run chase in Kimberley on Tuesday.

"I don't think they panicked, but it's tough as a young guy coming into an international team," he said.

"It's what pressure does to you when you find yourself in a situation where you're very young in international cricket and you have to win a game for your country.

"I've also been there and you need to learn the hard lessons to become a better player so, while it was extra pressure for them, it was also good for them. Hopefully they can take the lessons from this match and learn from them."

The third and final match in the series takes place in Potchefstroom on Friday.

With AB de Villiers suspended and Hashim Amla and Robin Peterson also out with injuries, Du Plessis will once again lead a young side, and said he relished every game which gave him another opportunity to develop both as a player and as a captain.


The Proteas
20 Years, 20 Landmark Matches by Neil Manthorp
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