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Faf du Plessis aims to use Australian disarray to South Africa’s advantage

After taking a 2-1 series lead, Faf du Plessis’ South Africa will look to press on and clinch victory against stuttering Australia in the final Test, starting March 30.

cricket Updated: Mar 25, 2018 23:11 IST
By Ben Spratt
By Ben Spratt
Omnisport, Cape Town
Faf du Plessis,Ball-Tampering,Steve Smith
The ball-tampering scandal of the third day continued to overshadow the third Test in Cape Town as Faf du Plessis’ South Africa thrashed Australia by 322 runs to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.(AP)

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis believes his side can profit from Australia’s off-field difficulties in the fourth and final Test after taking a 2-1 series lead. (SA vs AUS 3rd TEST, DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS)

The Proteas thumped the tourists by 322 runs in Cape Town, their opponents sheepish on Sunday’s fourth day after Cameron Bancroft admitted a charge of ball-tampering 24 hours earlier.

(Read | Sorry Australia thrashed by South Africa in ball-tampering aftermath)

It has been an ill-tempered series with prior incidents involving David Warner, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada before Bancroft and Steve Smith became embroiled in the latest scandal, the Australia captain now banned by the ICC for the next match at the Wanderers having confirmed his part in the decision to manipulate the ball.

And, as Cricket Australia carries out its own investigation amid pressure from the public back home, Du Plessis aims to take full advantage.

(Read | Tim Paine apologises after ‘horrible 24 hours’ for Australia)

“I believe we can put some more pressure on the Australian team with all the stuff that’s going on off the field,” he said of the fourth Test in his post-match presentation. “There’s a lot for us to work with.”

Despite the controversy that engulfed this match and had the crowd involved, Du Plessis insisted his players had not been affected.

(Read | Cameron Bancroft ball-tampering ‘out of character’ - Adam Voges)

“We are extremely motivated in this series,” he added. “Since that defeat in the first Test match in Durban, our motivation levels have just doubled.

“The guys are extremely focused on putting in big performances. Although that was happening, it was pretty easy for us just to make sure we could tighten that screw on the Australian team.”

(Read | Harbhajan Singh slams ICC’s decision in Steve Smith ball tampering row)

Morne Morkel collected the Man-of-the-Match honours after his career-best 9-110 across the two innings, with the retiring bowler delighted to take 5-23 as Australia capitulated from 57-0 to 107 all out on Sunday.

“I was hoping that I could deliver something special. I’m glad it all came together today at this amazing venue with the support of these people,” said Morkel, who reflected on another proud achievement having claimed his 300th wicket earlier in the Test.

“It was very special,” he said. “As a young boy, you dream of those sort of things. To join that club makes me so happy.”

First Published: Mar 25, 2018 22:44 IST