How did SA play so well at Newlands on Friday? Shut up and read ...
Sometimes‚ when a team have played particularly well‚ there’s no point the press asking questions.
Just shut the hell up and get out of the way and let the captain talk.
Friday night at Newlands‚ where South Africa beat Pakistan by six runs in the first T20 international‚ was one of those times.
The home side put up 192/6‚ the highest total in the format at that ground‚ and bowled and fielded like men on fire to limit their opponents’ reply to 186/9.
Happily‚ Faf du Plessis is a bloody good talker. So …
On David Miller‚ who took four catches and claimed two runouts‚ both with direct hits‚ to earn that rare thing‚ a man-of-the-match prize for fielding: “You need to anticipate well and you need to want the ball.
“David is a very good athlete‚ but all good fielders want to go to where the hot spots are; you want to go to to where the ball’s going to go. And that’s the most important thing.
“Sometimes you can sense it on the field‚ in his eyes‚ when he’s not so sure about the hot spots. With Dave‚ he’s always going to the hot spots because he wants to make a play.
“You don’t have to always score runs or take wickets — you can make an impact in the field as well. Those two runouts were brilliant and changed the game for us.”
On Reeza Hendricks‚ who scored 74 and shared 131 with Du Plessis‚ a second-wicket record for South Africa in T20s: “Reeza has improved his consistency. We’ve always known that he’s got flair and is one of those guys who is just beautiful to watch when he cover drives or back-foot drives.
“But he started adding consistency to his game in [the Mzansi Super League‚ where he bookended consecutive centuries with half-centuries and was out in the single figures only twice in nine innings].
“It’s not just one in every five knocks. It’s become three out of five and that’s really important.”
On the bowling front: “We’re moving in the right direction with death bowling. In the one-day series there were times when we weren’t as good as we wanted to be.
“Tonight‚ with a brand new attack‚ we executed really well. It was very good to see them closing the game down.
“One-day cricket is about landing the ball in a good area for long periods of the game. In T20 you can be a little bit all over the place and it’s hard to line you up.
“We had nice variety in our attack tonight. Somebody like Junior [Dala] bowls off the wrong foot and lands three metres behind the stumps.
“Chris Morris gets bounce and Beuran [Hendricks] is a left-armer. Then you’ve got [left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi]‚ who’s bowling really well.”
On beating a side who are No. 1 in the world in the format‚ who went into the match having reeled off nine successive wins‚ and who had emerged victorious in the last 11 times when they had batted second: “Pakistan have been hands-down the best T20 side in the world for the last two years.
“And we have been playing a lot of different players. We haven’t been playing even close to the same team in one series.
“So to put on a performance like that and to beat a team like that you need to be really on top of your game.”
South Africa’s captain in all three formats also had some news — he would not be part of the rest of the series “to get the tank filled up again”.
Du Plessis has played in 28 of South Africa’s 42 games since the start of 2018‚ so he is due a break.
But his 78 and his leadership were key factors in his team’s success on Friday‚ and South Africa can ill afford another blow to their batting what with Quinton de Kock missing the series because of a groin injury.
Now what? We’ll find out at the Wanderers on Sunday.