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Ken Borland


Faf hopes JSK are over their batting woes after change in the order

Posted on February 07, 2024 by Ken

FOCUSED: Joburg Super Kings captain Faf du Plessis returned to form with a quickfire half-century, steering his team’s late charge into the SA20 playoffs at the Wanderers.
Photo: Ron Gaunt.

A change in their batting order has Joburg Super Kings captain Faf du Plessis hopeful that they are over their batting woes as they head into their do-or-die eliminator against the Paarl Royals at the Wanderers on Wednesday.

JSK just snuck into the playoffs courtesy of their rousing victory over then log-leaders Durban Super Giants at the Wanderers last weekend, successfully chasing down a daunting target of 204. Du Plessis himself was man of the match with his 57 off 29 balls, marking a return to form for the former Proteas captain who had averaged just 20.66 in the tournament up till then.

Leus du Plooy opened the batting with Du Plessis and also scored 57, with Wayne Madsen coming in at number three and scoring 44 not out off 29 balls as he partnered big-hitters Moeen Ali and Donovan Ferreira as they took the Super Kings to victory with a ball to spare.

“After we were bowled out for 78 by the Sunrisers here, I felt embarrassed for the sell-out crowd, you’re hurting as a player and as a team. You’re half-expecting them not to turn up for the next game because they think you’re down-and-out, but we are extremely grateful we have such great supporters and we’re really glad we turned things around,” Du Plessis said at the Wanderers on Tuesday.

“I’m really proud of the performance against DSG, we were under a lot of pressure and managed to chase more than 200 against the best team in the tournament so far. So we will take a lot of confidence from that because DSG are a remarkable side with such balance.

“Obviously you need your big players to perform in a competition like this to put you in contention and there’s no doubt me not scoring many runs before that had a huge impact on the confidence of the team.

“You hope a couple of batsmen will have a purple patch and carry the batting line-up, but we were a bit light in that respect. But once we found our rhythm, we had better starts and that flowed through the team. We made a change with Leus moving up front and tactically that was a good change.

“Reeza Hendricks is an unbelievable player, but with the ball gripping in the first six overs like it has here, having two right-handers open the batting made it an uphill battle. To have two different batsmen at the crease [right-hand & left-hand] is important, especially if there’s something in the conditions.

“Wayne Madsen has also been fantastic in the last couple of games. Last season the pitch spun quite a bit here and so we went for Wayne because he’s very experienced and plays spin really well, his game centres around sweeping and reverse-sweeping. He’s been brilliant for us and he’s also one of the reasons our batting is in a better place,” Du Plessis said.

For Paarl Royals captain David Miller, the major change they need is in how they finish innings with the ball, having lost their last four games on the trot.

“It’s not ideal losing the last four, but it would look different if we lost five matches scattered through the tournament and there’s no stress or panic in any way. I was really happy with the way we went about our game at St George’s Park, even though we lost.

“In previous games, the opposition has taken the match away from us in the last four/five overs. You think you’ve restricted them to a good score to chase, but then it becomes a massive total and, as a batsman, chasing 10 or 11 an over from the get-go, you’re under pressure.

“So we’ve been in the game until the 15th or 16th over, playing really good cricket, but we need to stick to our processes, that’s what we’ll look to correct. T20 cricket can switch quickly, we have worked really hard and we still finished third on the log. So we are really positive and we just need to find our mojo again,” Miller said.

Playing at home in the eliminator and also potentially Qualifier 2 should also pump up the tyres of the Joburg Super Kings, but Du Plessis admitted they have struggled to adapt to the vagaries of the Wanderers pitch.

“Being at home will make a difference, it can give you an extra 10%, although we have been a bit frustrated here because we have not been able to produce our best. We’ve been a bit unsure of what the pitch will do. Winning your matches at home means you will generally be near the top at the back end of the tournament.

“But the last game here had a really good cricket wicket and it did not make that much difference whether you batted or bowled first. In the first few matches here, the pitch was very dry in the first innings and that played a bit into the oppositions’ strengths.

“But against DSG it was about playing your best cricket and then the best team would end up on top. It was all about how well you do your skills,” Du Plessis said.

As Miller pointed out though, Paarl Royals have won both their matches on the Highveld this season. Lungi Ngidi took four wickets as they won a thriller against the Pretoria Capitals in Centurion, and then they took advantage of a messy display in the field by the Super Kings to chase down 169 at the Wanderers and beat them by five wickets with an over to spare.

But back-to-back defeats to both the Durban Super Giants and Sunrisers Eastern Cape has punctured the confidence of the Royals; just how deflated they are will be seen on Wednesday evening.

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