Faf du Plessis praises Hashim Amla as South Africa defeat Afghanistan


FAF du Plessis believes the overdue runs from Hashim Amla could yet be the biggest bonus of South Africa’s first win of the 2019 World Cup.

Regarded as one of the greats of the modern era, Amla had been in a slump, making just 25 in three innings in the tournament prior to his unbeaten 41 in yesterday’s 9-wicket win over basement boys Afghanistan in Cardiff.

It wasn’t pretty or fluent, certainly not headline-grabbing, taking 83 balls.

It left some questioning whether the stodginess of the effort meant the Proteas had spurned an opportunity to bolster their net run-rate which could yet be a deciding factor in whether du Plessis’ men creep into the semi-finals.

Captain du Plessis saw it differently, stressing his team were already playing knockout cricket after opening their campaign with three defeats and a rain-ruined draw prior to the win in Cardiff.

Given that context, he needed Amla, the fastest man ever to 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 runs in ODI cricket, to be back to doing what he does best.

Therefore, giving up a greater improvement in run-rate in exchange for the 36-year-old right-hander’s biggest contribution with the bat in a while, however scratchily they were made, as he maintained a sacrifice worth paying.

“In a perfect world yes, you would want Hashim to get 40 off 40 balls or 50 balls, but I think specifically with him it is about the bigger picture,” he said.

“It was about getting runs, finishing a game off and gaining confidence. He is a big player for us and we need him for the next four games.

“I think it is the sort of innings which will enable him to kick on. He is such a quality player and time in the middle is gold for him.

“Guys like Quinton (de Kock) are on a different level when it comes to being attacking and free all the time, but not all players are like him. Some players just need time in the middle and runs behind their name or their back to give them confidence.

“That’s why I say in a perfect world yes, we could have pushed a little bit harder at the end, but sitting on the side I was okay with Hashim because I see the value for the games coming up.”

While Imran Tahir took the plaudits for his 4-29, including a spell of 3-3 in 14 balls which effectively decided the contest, du Plessis turned his thoughts to two of the more unsung members of his squad, Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris.

Morris (3-13) wasn’t even in the initial party announced for the tournament, but was called up when fellow paceman Anrich Nortje was ruled out with a broken thumb, while Phehlukwayo (2-18) was hailed ‘Mr Consistent’ by his captain.

“Andile has been our most consistent player,” he added.

“He surprises in that in every single game he does get wickets. He has picked up a yard again. He is not bowling quick obviously, but he’s definitely not floating the ball up. The ball is coming out with more intensity with him hitting the crease and the wicket.

“If Andile can hit that same spot and use the short ball every now and then, he is an effective bowler.

“But I have been really impressed with ‘Morry’ (Morris) too.

“He came and in the first couple of weeks when not in the side he was a little bit off his game, but he has turned it around completely and he is bowling really well in practice.

“He’s hungry and he’s consistent and that’s something that hasn’t always been there with him, so it’s a really good sign for him.”


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