Cape Town – Australia clinched the series with a six-wicket win in the third and final Twenty20 international against South Africa at Newlands on Wednesday, but both teams believe they have reason to be confident ahead of the World Twenty20 in India next week.
South African batsman Faf du Plessis plays a shot during the third and final T20 cricket match between South Africa and Australia at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on March 9, 2016 © AFP Rodger Bosch
Australian captain Steve Smith said the series win, built on strong batting performances in the last two matches, were an ideal boost for his side.
South African captain Faf du Plessis said he was disappointed to lose the series but believed his team had played good cricket in all three matches.
“We need to look at where we made mistakes,” said Du Plessis after Australia chased down a target of 179 with four balls to spare.
“Credit to Australia, they chased down what we thought was a good score. They kept playing aggressively and kept scoring boundaries. How you win games like that is to get one or two wickets and squeeze the opposition but we couldn’t do that.”
But Du Plessis said South Africa could do well in India.
“This team has got really good results in the sub-continent, so we’ll be really confident. But we’ve got a lot of work still to do before the first game. Our basics at crucial times let us down.”
Smith did not attend the press conference after the match but praised his players at the post-match presentation and said they would be confident going into the tournament in India.
Opening batsman Usman Khawaja said at the press conference: “Losing that first game and coming back to win the next two games was a pretty good thing with the World Cup coming up.”
Khawaja said although Australia had a “big batting line-up”, it was important for individual players to take responsibility.
“We don’t want to rely on everyone else. You want the guys at the top to score the majority of the runs but if that doesn’t happen you know you have some really good guys to come.”
Khawaja cautioned that conditions in India were different but said: “We’ve got a lot of players who have a lot of experience over there. It’s about doing what we do well and executing it.”
South African coach Russell Domingo said “a lot of boxes have been ticked during the series,” citing the return to action of Dale Steyn, the development of his fellow fast bowler Kagiso Rabada and the team’s batting performances.
“Any one of the top teams can win the World Cup but we’re one of the most consistent teams in this format,” said Domingo. “We’ve chased really well to win five must-win games lately but we need to find ways of creating pressure when we’re defending totals.”
Hashim Amla made 97 not out in a total of 178 for four on Wednesday to make a claim for an opening batsman berth.
Du Plessis had previously said only two of Amla, Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers would be likely to play in India, but on Wednesday said there was probably room for all three, with one of them dropping into the middle order.