Faf du Plessis © Getty Images
Faf du Plessis © Getty Images

Sunday’s 332-run thrashing allowed South Africa to take a 2-1 lead in the series against Australia which has featured a number of ugly clashes between the two teams. However, South Africa’s win was engulfed by the ball-tampering scandal that left the cricketing world in shock. Faf du Plessis refused to gloat on the incident, possibly mindful of his own personal charge sheet which has seen him twice fined for ball-related incidents, one of which was against Australia in 2016.”The situation I was in was really tough for me,” said Du Plessis who was caught on camera sucking on a sweet during the second Test in Hobart, before using his saliva to shine the ball.

The ICC found du Plessis guilty and fined him 100 percent of his match fee although he avoided a ban.”Ball shining versus ball tampering are two very different situations and one is much more serious than the other,” said Du Plessis who admitted, however, that the pressure heaped on Australia by the global condemnation of the tampering scandal worked in his team’s favour on Sunday.

Du Plessis, however, appreciated Smith owing up to his mistake: “It’s so difficult to say which is right and which is wrong. Obviously he is trying to take responsibility, so there is right in that. I can understand it’s a really tough time for him to be in now. The situation I was in was really difficult for me because people were attacking me, my personality and my character and I felt it was wrong, it wasn’t fair. I don’t know how he feels but I imagine it is a really tough time.”

As for the drama in the series thus far, du Plessis had a funny take to it: “It has been bizarre, crazy, ridiculous. We joke about it but it’s literally like a soap opera. There’s something happening every day. The two captains have both said it is a shame because this has been an incredible series between two strong teams. Apart from today, it has been a very evenly-matched series, amazing to watch. But there are way too many things happening away from the game that is taking the shine off.”

Du Plessis wants Australia to bounce back stronger in the deciding Test match: “We know Australia are a very proud nation and we expect them to come back, trying to do something special again. But the tank is probably not as big as it would be with all the stuff happening away from the field, so mentally it’s a difficult time. For us as a team it’s finding areas where we can have an edge on that.”

“Away from the game there was a lot of pressure. Make sure the boys are even more motivated to tighten the screw and not give them any breathing space,” added the skipper when asked to describe his game-plan.

“What we tried to do was to make them aware there is a lot of pressure on them. A lot of noise that’s probably going on inside their heads. Trying to get to that space where it’s not just about just watching the ball and hitting the ball, it’s about a lot of other things, trying to get to a place where you think their brains will go even more over the top thinking about things away from the game.”

(Inputs from AFP)