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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

South Africa v India: It's the pitch we wanted, says Faf Du Plessis

Proteas captain says pitch for the first Test against India, starting at Newlands on Friday, looked ideal for his team

India captain Virat Kohli, left, and South Africa's Faf du Plessis pose with the 2018 Freedom Series trophy prior to the first Test match at Newlands. Rodger Bosch / AFP
India captain Virat Kohli, left, and South Africa's Faf du Plessis pose with the 2018 Freedom Series trophy prior to the first Test match at Newlands. Rodger Bosch / AFP

South African captain Faf du Plessis said on Thursday that the pitch for the first Test against India, starting at Newlands on Friday, looked ideal for his team.

"The groundsman has done a fantastic job," Du Plessis said. "It's been very, very hot but it looks like it's going to be a good cricket wicket, nothing too extreme but it looks like it's going to be exactly what we wanted."

After several days of hot weather the match pitch had a mottled appearance. It looked less green than it was when the South Africans assembled on Tuesday but there was still a good covering of grass.

The ideal pitch, according to Du Plessis, is one that offers pace, bounce and some seam movement.

"You don't want excessive movement that brings both bowling attacks into the game. We feel that our seam resources on a wicket that offers a bit of pace and bounce can exploit some areas in their batting line-up," he said.

For the first time in more than a year, South Africa have all their key bowlers fit, while the returning AB de Villiers needs to be slotted into what has been a settled batting middle order.

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"There are so many combinations," Du Plessis said. "It is the hardest team selection I've been involved in. We have so many different options, we can almost pick different teams for different venues."

Although coach Ottis Gibson indicated earlier in the week that it was unlikely Dale Steyn would be part of the fast bowling line-up after a long injury break, Du Plessis said the former world No 1 bowler had lost none of his skill.

"Dale for me is the best bowler in the world," Du Plessis said. "He hasn't played for a while. He hasn't got the overs under his legs that he would have wanted but facing Dale in the nets it feels like he's got the same pace, the same swing."

Du Plessis admitted that South Africa had produced some disappointing results in the past two years, notably away to India and at home to England in 2015/16 and in England in 2017, but said conditions, particularly in India, and injuries had been a factor.

He said he looked forward to his team challenging for the No 1 Test ranking, currently held by India.

"The next two or three years are going to be very exciting for South African cricket. We can push very hard to not only get to number one but to stay there for quite a bit."

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