De Villiers: Faf has a great cricket brain

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South Africa ODI captain AB de Villiers is thrilled for team-mate and long-time friend Faf du Plessis, who has scored three centuries in four matches in the tri-series in Zimbabwe.

South Africa ODI captain AB de Villiers is thrilled for team-mate and long-time friend Faf du Plessis, who has scored three centuries in four matches in the tri-series in Zimbabwe.

Du Plessis has made the number three slot his own on the tour, bagging a run of scores since arriving in the country: 98, 59, 55, 40, 106, 15, 126, 121. His third ton, on Thursday against Zim, saw his side into the final against Australia as the Proteas won by 63 runs.

De Villiers said after the match of his school mate: "It's certainly the best form he's shown at international level, but I've always known that he was capable of doing that.

"So it's great to see him coming through like that, and at a crucial time. Leading up to a big World Cup, it's great to have our No.3 slot cemented down now by a guy who's in great form and a guy with a great cricket brain.

"He played exceptionally well again today, in a tricky situation against Zimbabwe again. It set us up nicely for a good ODI win."

De Villiers then expressed relief that newbie Rilee Rossouw, who got ducks in his first two matches, got a decent 36, saying the top order gave the youngster, and JP Duminy (51) a bit of room to maneuver, what with Du Plessis going strong.

The skipper said: "It was good to see Rilee get in today and get 30 and bowl a couple of overs. We laid the foundation up front there, and it freed up the middle order a little bit.

"It's difficult to go three or four down early in the innings and expect them to fix everything, which we've done in the past. So to get a nice foundation laid out for us like that always frees up the middle order to really showcase their talents."

De Villiers then praised their hosts, saying Zimbabwe had the talent to become a dangerous side once again, as long as they got support, and that South Africa always felt a close bond with their neighbours, though they weren't going to give them too many tips ahead of their next clash, at the World Cup in Australasia.

He said: "They're still a dangerous team with lots of talent. They're obviously still working on a few things, trying to get a few things in place. Leading up the World Cup as well, I think all the teams are focusing on that now.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with Zimbabwe's cricket. I think they've got a lot of talent, they just need to get the combinations in place, and a few other things. Get their batters in the runs. They've got all the talent in the world, they just need to get into the runs. That's what it comes down to.

"We have not had a lot of time to mingle but I have spoken to a few of them – Brendan Taylor is one, we go a long way back. At the end of the day we're playing them in the World Cup so you don't want to share too much.

"We're good friends with a few of them, but cricketing wise we're playing them in the World Cup so we don't want to share too many things. There's more than enough time for socialising after the Aussie game – Brendan has already told me that a few of them will be coming to watch.

"They're after all our neighbours in Africa so we're huge supporters of their cricket. Just not in the World Cup."

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