Looking ahead to the all-important second Test of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka, South African Captain Faf du Plessis has urged his batsmen to show more confidence in their defense while batting against the threat of spin that the likes of Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera inflict.
On a turner at Galle, South African batsmen, including the might of Hashim Amla, struggled to get going at all. Fighting demons in the mind about the pitch, their lack of strong defensive technique got exposed and it must have really disappointed Du Plessis that they failed to put up a substantial total on the board even once across both innings.
South Africa got bowled out for 126 and 73 and eventually lost the match by 278 runs.
Ahead of the second Test, Faf was quoted saying, “I thought in the first Test, we were quite off the boil in a lot of areas, We have been also a team that starts off late, unfortunately. Then we start making better decisions. Hopefully, we can do that in this Test match although we know it's going to be tough. We are looking forward to the challenge. The record is something that we are proud of."
"It is never easy winning away from home. When you are coming to the sub-continent, drawing a series is as good as winning a series. It’s tough and that’s what the best teams do. We need to get to that number one position in Test cricket. In order to do that, we need to make sure we compete.”
Du Plessis praised the performance of Sri Lankan spinners and reiterated the respect he has for Dimuth Karunaratne after his marathon effort at Galle. On a surface where the ball spun from day 1, the left-hander exemplified great technique and excellent temperament to score 158 and 60 in the two innings respectively.
Faf said, “I thought SL spinners bowled really well and that’s what we expect in these conditions. The thing that let us down in the first Test was that we didn’t trust our defense well enough. The important part of playing spin in Test cricket is trusting your defense. Obviously, we need to try and put pressure back on the spinners as well with what you are doing. The guys worked really hard on their game plan and are trying to be positive against spin, which is an element of playing spinners well. You have to also trust your defense so that’s two parts."
“That was the difference between how Sri Lanka played spin and how we played spin. Especially Dimuth Karunaratne, who didn’t take too many risks. He just played with good defence. If you take him away, I think both teams struggled to play spin well,”
He also talked about Dale Steyn. Making a comeback to the Test arena after a while, the greatest fast-bowler of this generation is just one wicket away of surpassing Shaun Pollock’s all-time record for South Africa after drawing level at 421 scalps in the previous game.
“Dale gets better and better the more he plays. I have played with him a lot and I know that. The biggest thing for him must have been getting through a Test match as you say, So that’s a massive positive for us. I am expecting him to do big things for this team. He was very disappointed. Dale is a guy who is known for getting teams out. He is very hungry for wickets. I am excited to see what he does. I will give a kiss to him on the cheek (when he breaks the record).”
The second Test starts from Friday, July 20 in Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club.
(Inputs from Wisden)