Dharamsala: Pace may have been their biggest strength all this while, but South African Twenty20 skipper Faf du Plessis today said the Proteas now possess a potent spin force as well after the emergence of Imran Tahir.
Recently Indian great Sachin Tendulkar had said that Tahir can be an impact player for South Africa on their long India tour and du Plessis endorsed the view ahead of the first Twenty20 international in Dharamsala on Friday.
South African captain Faf du Plessis addressing media after a practice session ahead of the first T20 match against India in Dharamshala on Thursday. Pic/PTI
"I suppose they know we have got spinners who can win us games. Imran has proven it right across the world that he has changed his game, specifically with the white ball format. He has changed the way we have played in white ball format. We have always relied on pace to strike first and now our success in One day team or T20 team is heavily on his (Tahir) shoulders," du Plessis said at the pre-match press conference.
"He is number two in the world in ODIs. It's nice to know we have also got a weapon in spinning department. JP (Duminy) also has had success in T20 cricket, he gets wickets all the time. Then we have young spinner in Eddie Leie, almost tapping into Imran's knowledge, so confident our spinning options," the visiting captain said.
Tahir went wicket-less in the warm up game in Palam but he contributed in the series against New Zealand and was also among wickets in County cricket in August. He has taken 25 wickets in 16 T20s.
Talking about tomorrow's match, du Plessis hoped that the wicket will be ideal for T20 cricket even as it looks 'damp' underneath as of now.
"But I think with two days of sun to shine on it, hopefully, there will be a lot in it for the batsmen, lots of runs but also good carry. Hopefully we can have a game full of runs, plenty of boundaries will be scored. It's different than what we practiced in Delhi, probably the quickest wickets I have played in India," he said.
Du Plessis was worried about the dew factor and to counter that they practiced with wet balls. "It came as a big surprise when we came for practice last night. The dew was there at half past six. But it will be pretty much same for both the teams. Dew is never a nice thing for a bowling team or fielding team because the ball gets slippery. The wet ball takes away a little bit of challenge from the spinners because it does not spin much," he said.
David Miller is a big striker of the cricket ball but he has not been in great form off late. Du Plessis though was hopeful that the batsman will find his rhythm sooner than later.
"David knows these conditions. As a batsman you take lot of learning from conditions, so he knows the bowlers. We know what he can do. He is a real string hitter," said du Plessis.
Du Plessis admitted that he and his teammates were in awe of the beautiful HPCA stadium. "I have been here for a few times and you are in awe of the beauty of the ground. The mountain at the back. It is compared to Newlands with the mountain at the back. This is the best T20 ground in the world and Newlands is the best Test ground in the world."
Asked how they plan to cope with gruelling and long tour of India, du Plessis said it indeed was a big challenge "mentally" and the key was to get some quality time away from the game.
"Any place not at home can be quite tough mentally. I can fall back on my time in IPL. We (CSK) have been right through almost every season. It's important how you enjoy away from the game. Our management does (sic) a few plans to make it short, because it can get long. The Test matches are right at the end.
"That's going to be a real challenge for the guys. And we take pride in our status in Test matches, we are number one. Our performance is always of high standard. India is one of the toughest places because conditions does not make it easier. But you work through that," he said.
Du Plessis has shared the CSK dressing room with his counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina apart from Ravichandran Ashwin but he felt that familiarity with each other would not make it easier for anyone.
"It does not take away the edge to win or competitiveness on the field." Further talking about IPL, he said, "IPL has changed the way cricket is played. There is aggressiveness and I have taken a lot from IPL, batting against the best spinners in the world."