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South Africa ODI

'Our best came in a crunch game' – Faf du Plessis

Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, was delighted with his team's win in a high-stakes match against Pakistan, clinching the final one-day international and the five-match series 3-2.

After electing to field first, South Africa restricted Pakistan to 240/8, courtesy of a strong bowling performance in Cape Town. Quinton de Kock's fiery 83 at the top of the order then broke the spine of the Pakistan bowling, making it all too easy for the home side

"Yeah extremely happy, you could see that our best performance came tonight in a crunch game," said du Plessis on Wednesday, 30 January. "It's good to see that when the stakes are high, the team has responded.  

"The bowling was excellent and the fielding was good too. If someone like Quinton plays like that and brings the rate down, it makes it easier for the remaining batters."

Half-centuries from de Kock and du Plessis meant that the 20-year-old Wiaan Mulder, included in the XI for this match, did not get a bat. Mulder's inclusion was in line with the team's thinking of trying out players and finding the best combination ahead of the World Cup.

"[We] would've liked to see Wiaan also get a go, but happy to seal the series clinically," said du Plessis. "We, as a management, are starting to see a bit of clarity in the squad, especially after this series. A few positions are still up for grabs, but there's surely more clarity now.

"I thought Pakistan played really good white-ball cricket, especially in the first four games, in all department. We might rest a few in the Twenty20s, giving a few of the guys a much-needed breather."

Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain, lamented Pakistan's failure in converting starts into big knocks. Six of their top seven batters notched double figures but struggled to kick on and build partnerships in the middle. 

"We played well in the previous game. Today our top three batters got starts. We wanted them to capitalise on that, but it didn't happen," rued Malik. "If they do well then you have a great chance of winning the game. There were a couple of 20s and 30s but we couldn't capitalise on that."

Malik stressed on the importance of the top three in the batting order, especially in ODI cricket. "We have quite a few cricket [matches] before getting into the World Cup. White ball cricket is all about the first three batters, if they give you good start you win most games," he said.

"We needed a couple of quick wickets today which didn't happen. Want to credit QDK (de Kock) for his amazing knock. Looking forward to the T20s."

The teams will lock horns in three T20Is in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Centurion on 1, 3, and 6 February, respectively. 

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