Faf hopes his boys can find the 'zone'

"Our entire batting line-up is in form," says the South African skipper Faf du Plessis.   -  Vivek Bendre

In his mind’s eye, Novak Djokovic sees himself stretching every sinew to retrieve an irretrievable forehand from Roger Federer’s racquet. Point after point, game after game, set after set… That’s how top sportspersons are: first, they visualise; then, they make it happen.

At the Wankhede on Thursday, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis spoke of the “zone”, that inner sanctum where an athlete entertains no thoughts whatsoever. Chris Gayle was chilling somewhere ‘there’ when he demolished England on Wednesday night. And, now, du Plessis hopes his boys can inflict more of the same pain on Eoin Morgan’s battered squad on Friday.

“If you speak to sportsmen around the world, when you are playing a genius innings, you completely go into your zone. It’s like driving to a place, you don’t know how you got there but you have got there. The nice thing is this wicket gives you the opportunity. Hopefully, we can do that tomorrow,” the 31-year-old said.

According to du Plessis, the South African team is blessed with several batsmen capable of doing a Gayle. AB de Villiers is one of them. And the fact that South Africa amassed 438 the last time they played here only augurs well for the team. “Yes, AB is in good form at the moment. He’s playing well. Your past performances play a big role when you come to a ground. You use that to your advantage, try and replicate those performances. As I mentioned we have got a few guys raring to go. For me, our entire batting line-up is in form. It’s a dangerous sign for the opposition; it’s just about putting it together on the day.”

Comparing the Wankhede to the Wanderers in Johannesburg because “you just don’t know what’s enough on this wicket,” du Plessis acknowledged the importance of putting up a big total.

“I’ve played games here where we’ve scored 250, and the opposition makes it seem very easy. You never know, it’s a good ground; it’s a lot of runs normally. I feel this is one of the best grounds in India where there is a bit in it for the bowlers as well. If you have bowlers who do the right things, especially early in the innings, then you are in the game. I’ve also been on that side where teams have gotten a lot of wickets up front, and then it becomes really difficult to get back in the game, because you’re not chasing quite a big score. So I think it’s a fantastic place to play T20 cricket.

“There is a bit of bounce, a bit of swing, the ball travels, the wicket’s good, and the spinners are not as much in the match as they would be in other grounds in India. But that’s the great thing about a tournament like this. You have variety. It’s good to go from one ground to another which has a different surface. And, as a team, you need to adapt. But, for us, it’s first two at the Wankhede. We’ve had a warm-up game here; we’ve seen what the teams are doing. So, we’ve got a pretty good idea about how it works. However, if you don’t do those things on the day, any team can beat you,” he added.

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