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Shirin Sadikot in Cape Town

IPL teams yet to adapt to conditions: du Plessis

CSK opener admits the teams from India are finding SA pitches tough to cope with

The 2012 edition of CLT20 is testing some of the strongest teams to the hilt. The IPL teams, who have come in with great reputations, are finding it difficult to find their feet. While the Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians are yet to win a match in the tournament, the Delhi Daredevils have registered their win over another IPL team, KKR.

After their last-over six-wicket loss to the Highveld Lions, CSK opening batsman Faf du Plessis cited difficulty to adapt to the South African conditions as the main reason for the indifferent performance of the IPL teams. Speaking to clt20.com, du Plessis analysed various factors that went against his team on the day and hoped for a highly improved performance in the remaining two matches, if the team wants to make it to the knockout stage. He also, with a slight blush, told us how he felt keeping Michael Hussey out of the playing XI.

Excerpts from his interview:

Two losses from as many games is not something that CSK are used to. What’s going wrong?

You’ve got to get used to the conditions quickly and most IPL teams are starting off slowly because these are very different conditions for them. And the teams who are used to these conditions – the Australian and South African teams – are doing well.

Given CSK’s pace attack, that comprises Doug Bollinger, Ben HIlfenhaus and Albie Morkel, one would imagine the team would’ve defended 159

I think they bowled really well and we were a little unlucky. Gulam Bodi got away with a few lucky edges for fours and he could’ve been out any of these times. I thought our pacers bowled very well up front. It’s just that the Lions got the best of the conditions. The wicket was a bit slow when they were bowling and as you saw their spinner Phangiso got a couple of them to turn. Sitting on the sidelines, I thought according to my knowledge of the conditions, as it gets colder at night, the wicket will get a little quicker and that’s nice for batting. That’s something that we discussed before the game at the time of the toss and it played like that. I thought after the sixth over of the second innings, it was perfect to bat on.

How was it keeping Mr. Cricket out of the team?

I’m happy to play but Mike Hussey is such a great player that if I have to step out to make way for him, I’ll do it all the time. It was just my fortune that I got some runs in the previous game and got selected to play in this one. Otherwise I’d be sitting on the bench.

Was it also to do with you and Albie Morkel being very familiar with the conditions here?

In the previous game, we realised we need another seam bowler in these conditions since the new ball dips around a bit. That’s the reason why we went with Albie, the internationally experienced seamer.

Was it different playing against the Lions for CSK than taking them on as part of the Titans?

I always play against them but it’s for my home team. It feels a bit different because I had a bit more insight into how to bowl to them and what their game plans would be like. It was nice to contribute in that sense. They’re a very good team; they’re not full of superstars but all of them chip in and make it a strong team. That’s what they do even in the domestic tournaments. Everyone puts in a small performance here or there to wins it for the team.

Looking forward to playing against your state team Titans?

The only way I can play them is if we meet in the semis, and for that to happen now we’ll need to start playing some really good cricket to get our net run-rate up. If it happens, it would be nice to play against them. They’ve bowled to me 1000 balls in the nets, so even they know where I like to score. We’ll get there if we’ll get there.

How different is it playing in front of the South African crowds from those in Chennai?

It’s more or less the same. When playing in Chennai that is our home crowd as a team and they all support us. It’s nice to have some fans around and get that support from the crowd. Today, while the crowds were cheering the Lions on, I could sense that they were also rooting for me and the other South African players.

Are you happy to bat here in South Africa or you’d rather bat on the Indian tracks?

I love batting on the Indian tracks, I really do. It’s not that I dislike batting in South Africa, but India is one of my favourite places to open the batting. There are really big crowds and I love playing in front of them. I’m looking forward to going there again.

Did you expect Phangiso to take that catch?

Not at all. When I hit it, I thought it will go for a one-bounce four. But it just held up in the wind and I saw three guys running after it. I was just hoping, ‘Please, fall safe’. Then I saw Phangiso was too far away from the ball, so I thought I was fine. Suddenly I see this little man dive and actually catch it. It was a very good catch and there’s nothing I can do about it.

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