Faf du Plessis may have been named Man of the Match in the second Test against Pakistan at Newlands for his tremendous first-innings century, but the Proteas captain was effusive in his praise of Dale Steyn and Temba Bavuma after the series-clinching victory.
Steyn took 4/85 in 19 overs in Pakistan’s second innings as the tourists threatened a comeback and the 35-year-old seems to be back at full power after the travails of the last couple of years.
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“It’s very difficult to predict anything with Dale, I admit I had some doubts when he came back from injury as to whether he would be the same Dale Steyn we had, but he’s proved everybody wrong. It is so difficult to judge him on his age because he’s a freak, a super-athlete, he’s so fit. He was our quickest bowler on a slow pitch.
“He also plays such smart cricket, he knows when to turn it on or off. In terms of the future, it’s just about as long as he wants to play, although he will possibly pull out of white-ball cricket after the World Cup,” Du Plessis said.
Bavuma made his second successive 50 in tricky batting conditions, adding a match-winning
156 for the fifth wicket with Du Plessis as he scored 75.
“Temba has made runs twice now on tough pitches because he applies himself mentally and is technically so good. Also the value of his runs is important, they’ve come when we have been in deep trouble.
“I still believe Temba is technically one of our best batsmen when the ball is moving around – he leaves well and he plays late. I would back him to bat at four and I know he wants to do it,” Du Plessis said.
The skipper scored 103 in a six-hour epic; having made a pair in the first Test at Centurion, alongside opposite number Sarfraz Ahmed, the first time in Test history both captains have made a pair in the same match, Du Plessis put himself in much better company with his first century at Newlands.
“It was a good test for me because I’ve been batting really well, technically I’ve felt the best I ever have, then you get a pair and it’s amazing how quickly you go into that space where you’re worried about where your next run will come from. So I focused on getting my head right, being positive mentally. It’s amazing how quickly it happens though,
it doesn’t matter how many Tests you’ve played,” Du Plessis said.