IXU. Three letters that spell out the beginning of a new era in South African cricket. It is a new name for a new generation. One that is bold, assertive and innovative. That keeps its cool while heating things up.
The Proteas produced a clinical performance to beat the Black Caps by 33 runs in the third and final T20 International in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, securing a 2-1 series win. Du Plessis said they looked forward to defending their No. 1 position in the longest format of the game when the first of two Tests starts in Cape Town next week."Test cricket is such an awesome test of skill and we are all looking forward to the longer version of the game," he said. "We are No. 1 in the world now and we don't want to let the standards we've set slip ... Personally, I'm really looking forward to joining up with the Test team again because it's such a special place to play Test cricket. I haven't played a home series in Test cricket so I can't wait to get to Cape Town." Reflecting on their Boxing Day clash in the short format, Du Plessis was full of praise for South Africa's latest additions to T20 cricket – spin bowler Aaron Phangiso and top-order batsman Henry Davids.
Rewarding Phangiso, after bowling four overs for 42 runs without success on debut in East London in the second T20 international, bounced back superbly to pick up 3/25 in Port Elizabeth, including the big wickets of Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum. "I must say I did feel Phangi would be good today. The wicket was a little bit two-paced and Phangi bowls quite straight," Du Plessis said. "It was obviously very rewarding for him when he got that first wicket. You could see the nerves settle a bit and then after that he was just his old self and he bowled really well ... I'm very chuffed for him and he showed good character after coming back from his first game where he took a bit of tap." Man of the match Davids smashed a second consecutive half-century, making 68 off 51 balls in only his third T20 international. "Henry was great throughout the series. I think there's been a lot of that in international cricket, when guys get the call up and they perform straight away," said the skipper. "I think it's a good sign for cricket. Henry's done really well for the last year now. He had a good Champions League and obviously drew confidence from that ... He plays really good cricket shots and puts the bowlers under pressure." Du Plessis was pleased with the way South Africa responded after the loss in East London. "I thought we came back very nicely with the bat, especially when you've got a couple of young guys who are new to international cricket ... After losing two wickets early up front our guys showed good composure and posted a really good total. I thought the bowling was excellent throughout the series. We bowled well most of the time ... I believe we deserved to win the series. I thought we were very unlucky in the second game."
Disappointing New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said expectations were high heading into the final match of the series at St George's. "We very disappointing because we came into this game with high hopes," McCullum said. "We obviously built up some momentum after the East London game where we did very well after the initial Durban disappointment. For a fair amount of the game, I thought we competed really well, but South Africa grabbed some of those bigger moments and we were found wanting at times." The Black Caps play a three-day tour match against a South African Invitational XI in Paarl starting on Friday. – Sapa