South Africa v India 2018, First ODI: Faf du Plessis is the SK Player of the Day
South African skipper, Faf du Plessis, led from the front against India in the first game of the five-match ODI series in Durban on Thursday (February 1). The 33-year-old scored the 9th ODI century of his career and did so in style.
He came in at a critical juncture of the game, and wickets were tumbling around him throughout his innings of 120 off 112 deliveries, but that did not deter the right-handed batsman from playing a top-drawer knock.
He looked self-assured and positive right from the outset and that showed in the tremendous off-drives that he smoked through the covers in the very beginning of his innings.
India looked in control halfway through the South African innings when they picked up five wickets before the 30th over of the game. However, du Plessis proved to be the anchor as well as the aggressor of the innings and was pivotal to the hosts reaching a very defendable total.
He walked into the middle in the 8th over of the game and was dismissed on the fifth-last ball of the innings. He kept the innings together and batted with absolute dominance before the pleased spectators at Kingsmead.
It is notable that while other batsmen struggled to get going under the consistent pressure put up by the Indian bowling attack, du Plessis batted with a strike rate of 107.14. He was dropped by Ajinkya Rahane soon after scoring his hundred and grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
The two sixes that he hit over long-on after that in the last phase of his innings were nothing short of extraordinary. Nimble footwork, tremendous power, and precise timing were key to his batting on the day. If his innings has to be characterized by one particular shot, it would be the ridiculous six that he hit off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 48th over of the game.
South Africa have their noses in front halfway through the game, courtesy the exceptional knock from their captain. However, they would be aware of the ardent love that Virat Kohli and his team harbour towards ODI run chases.
Thus, an exciting contest has been set up in the middle by some disciplined bowling by the Indians coupled with an inspired fightback from the South Africans. The Indian top-order will be the key to the visitors' chances of putting this game to bed. Can they come out swinging?