South Africa fear no opposition at World Cup: du Plessis
Mirpur: South African all-rounder Faf du Plessis is confident of his side coming out with flying colours in the World Cup quarterfinal clash against New Zealand to be held on Friday.
South Africa has emerged as the team to beat in this World Cup, topping Group B to set up a high-voltage clash against the Black Caps and du Plessis said they are not paying too much attention to who their opposition is in the knock-out round.
"We specifically said we don`t want to focus on who we are playing and have our minds distracted by our opposition. If we prepare well and we are ready for the game and we play to our full ability, we are confident that we will win the quarter-final," du Plessis on Monday said at the team hotel here.
"I`m happy with playing New Zealand. Even if we were playing any of the other teams, we wouldn`t have been too worried," he added. du Plessis, however, acknowledged that New Zealand, on their day, could be tough to beat. "They are a very dangerous side but, as you know, when it comes to the knockout stage everyone is dangerous. But I`m not too worried about what they`ve got. If we bowl well, field well and bat well, we`ll win the game," du Plessis said.
Before coming to this World Cup, New Zealand had lost 11 out of the 12 games they had played in the subcontinent over the last year. They struggled during the league stage also before managing to advance to the knockout round as Group A`s fourth-placed team.
Drawing confidence from the fact, du Plessis said he is pleased with the draw as Proteas look to end their heartbreak campaign at the World Cup, which dates back to their first appearance at the tournament in 1992. "If you think about past mistakes you`re not going to play your best game. Even when we were in tough situations (during the group stage), guys played with freedom and got us out of that hole. We`re not going to put too much emphasis on it being a quarter-final or whatever. It`s just another game and if we do the things we`ve been doing, we`ll win the game," said the 26-year-old.
After winning five out of their six league-stage matches, South Africa are now considered as one of the strongest sides in the tournament and the pressure is once again on the team to break its World Cup jinx and shed the chokers` tag. With the quarterfinal on Friday, both teams enjoy almost a week-long gap and du Plessis said it was important to take your mind off cricket.
"It`s just needed to take your mind off cricket. Then three, four days before the game, you start to build up the intensity until match day when you should be firing on all cylinders."
Wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers and pacers Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn were rested during South Africa`s win over Bangladesh in their last league game, while batting mainstay Jacques Kallis has had treatment for a tight hamstring, but it is not considered serious. du Plessis said South Africa`s Group B win over India had given the team an enormous boost ahead of key clashes.
"The win against India gave us a lot of confidence because everyone chipped in. It also served as a morale booster, after a demoralising loss to England in Chennai where the batting collapsed and South Africa were accused of crumbling under pressure.
"We should have won the game against England. But it gave us a sense of what to do when we are in that situation again," du Plessis said.