IPL: The 'Improving Proteas League'
Ahead of the highly anticipated marathon series vs India, the South Africans admit that playing in the Indian Premier League has given them a lot of inside knowledge on how to play in Indian conditions.
The sight of Indian cricket fans lining up to get autographs from South African cricketers in New Delhi on Monday wasn't strange. After all, the likes of AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and David Miller are not just cricketing heroes, but also household names in India. Indian fans in fact have been cheering for the Proteas for many years -- in the Indian Premier League. (Proteas Ready to Unleash Pace Attack, Says Coach Russell Domingo)
The experience of playing in the world's most popular T20 league will undoubtedly help the Proteas a lot in the upcoming three T20 series vs India. South African T20 captain Faf du Plessis in fact admitted, "The IPL has changed my game a tremendous amount. I have learnt a lot batting in these conditions. I have been fortunate enough to play with guys like MS (Dhoni), Brendon McCullum, (Dwayne) Bravo. So I have personally learnt a lot from the IPL and I think it has benefited us as players as well." (Faf Du Plessis Feels Conditions in Dharamsala Will Suit Proteas Better)
South African coach Russell Domingo echoed that sentiment, saying, "We are fortunate that quite a lot of our players have played in Indian conditions before. A lot of players have played in the IPL, so they are familiar with the conditions, so I suppose we do understand what is required to play good cricket in these conditions." (Amla to Miss Practice Game)
Picture this - As many as 10 players in the current 15-member South African T20 squad are part of IPL teams. The likes of Du Plessis, AB de Villiers and David Miller are tried and tested match winners for their IPL teams and they will look to use the knowledge of Indian conditions not just in the T20s, but through the marathon 72-day tour of India, across all 3 formats.
The Proteas, like most other cricketing nations, use the IPL to rate upcoming players in the limited overs formats. Faf du Plessis brought that up in thepress conference after South Africa's arrival on Monday, saying, "You have guys like Chris Morris. He had a good IPL. We sit back and look at those performances and now he is getting an opportunity in a T20 side." (Russell Domingo Impressed With Virat Kohli's 'Aggressive' Team India)
Du Plessis himself is going to be extremely important to his side's fortunes and he would have picked up a tip or two from a man who is a veteran captain, under whom he has played in the Chennai Super Kings for many seasons - MS Dhoni. Du Plessis didn't shy away from taking a question on what he has learnt from Dhoni, saying, "I have been fortunate to play a lot of cricket under him (Dhoni) and there have been great things I have learnt from him. Of course the Indian cricket team and players have a great amount of respect for him so I know what he brings to the party. I know that he is a very calm captain."
With the IPL experience under their belt, for the visiting South Africans, the upcoming 3-match T20 series could prove to be extremely valuable. After all,they will be back here early next year for the ICC World T20 as they try and end a 17-year ICC trophy drought.