Du Plessis combats 'massive pressure'

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Batsman Faf du Plessis capped a troubled start to the month with a welcome Man of the Match award, as South Africa beat Pakistan by 68 runs in the third ODI at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Batsman Faf du Plessis capped a troubled start to the month with a welcome Man of the Match award, as South Africa beat Pakistan by 68 runs in the third ODI at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Guilty of ball-tampering and fined 50 percent of his match fee during the second Test against the same opposition, du Plessis cherished a helpful turnaround en route to a fine half-century and two important catches on Wednesday.

A calm 55, which spanned 60 deliveries and featured eight boundaries, contributed to a telling total of 259 for eight. Du Plessis later had a hand in the departures of batsmen Mohammad Hafeez and Asad Shafiq, as Pakistan fell to an insufficient 191 all out.

"It has been a tough time, so I'm thankful to this performance, especially when the team wins. I've enjoyed batting up the order and hopefully I can give some more of those at number three in the order," enthused du Plessis.

"I was under massive pressure but you have to keep trying, you can never give up. I've been hitting the ball well and it's just about settling in the middle. When you get an opportunity, you cash in with a 70 or 80. I love fielding and when I always try contributing with the ball and in the field."

Triumphant captain AB de Villiers acknowledged the telling return of opener Hashim Amla and fast bowler Dale Steyn. Amla was on paternity leave and Steyn rested for the first two fixtures of the five-match affair. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir, meanwhile, clinched a superb haul of four for 53.

"Very happy with our performance, we stuck to the basics and got a few partnerships going. Always easier to play with players like Amla and Steyn. We lost a couple of wickets at the wrong time but a better performance and our bowlers came to the party," added de Villiers.

"Steyn is a wonderful bowler, he is close to perfect. He brings in intensity to the team and he ups the pace of the game. Tahir's breakthroughs were really crucial and Dale brings this intensity, which is irreplaceable. Faf was under pressure to perform and that's how big players perform."

The fourth ODI will get underway at the same venue on Friday. The Sharjah Cricket Stadium will host the fifth and final match on Monday.

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