Faf du Plessis and the Proteas Blue Label Telecoms T20 squad will not be taking New Zealand lightly during the three-match KFC International T20 Series starting at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Friday.
Past records and rankings may suggest an easy taking for the Proteas, however, the tenacity of the Black Caps and the unpredictable nature of the T20 format leaves the odds even.
“I rate them quite highly,” the captain said on the eve of the match. “I remember at the World Cup a lot of teams would have said it was going to be an easy game, but I definitely learnt the hard way in terms of that. You can’t underestimate any opposition, and in T20 cricket it makes them even more dangerous because they have quite a few match winners.”
Du Plessis hopes passing down past experiences against the Black Caps will help the younger players, with those experiences including the disappointing quarter-final exit at the ICC World Cup and the away tour earlier this year.
“One thing the Kiwis always bring to the party is competitiveness,” he said. “Luckily I have played a couple of series against them so we can share that knowledge with the younger guys so that they know what to expect. They are very competitive so we are expecting a tough series.”
The 28 year-old has had a superlative run in the last couple of months, with the highlight being his match-saving century on debut against Australia in Adelaide. He has remained humble and grounded when many would find it difficult to cope with the hype and glory.
I’m very grateful for the last couple of months, it’s been really good,” he added. “I know that I have to keep my feet on the ground because it can change very quickly. I’m still practising really hard, making sure that I tick all the boxes and hopefully that good form can continue.”