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Du Plessis wants more from batsmen at venue of 'mixed memories'

The South Africa captain said he would have liked the batsmen to be more clinical in the chase at Perth, after the bowlers had demolished Australia for 152

Faf du Plessis shakes hands with the Australian players after South Africa's win Getty Images

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has asked for a more clinical performance from his players in the second one-day international against Australia at the Adelaide Oval on Friday.While South Africa turned in a near faultless performance with the ball in the opening match in Perth, dismissing Australia for 152, du Plessis suggested that there were still grounds for improvement with the bat from both his own team and the beleaguered Australians, who have now lost seven ODIs in a row since they beat England in Adelaide at the beginning of the year.
"It was a great start for us, but I would have liked us to be more clinical in making sure we won that game with eight or nine wickets in the shed after the great start we had with the bat," he said.
"From a results point of view, there is a bit of pressure on [Australia's] batting line-up to score runs. We're not very far off that as well. Our bowling unit seems to be clicking very well, but I do feel that from a batting point of view, we're looking for that top six who are constantly putting out runs and putting in performances that say 'pick me'."
While Australia will have happy memories from their last ODI in Adelaide, du Plessis has mixed memories of a ground that has provided the stage for a couple of significant passages in his international career. The Adelaide Oval was the stage for his century on Test debut in 2012, and was also the scene of one of the toughest weeks of his career during the "mintgate" affair in 2016.
"It was a lot different to this, there were a few more cameras around," du Plessis said of the last time he was in Adelaide in the midst of his being sanctioned for ball tampering himself - a verdict he disagreed with.
"It's mixed memories," he added. "The Test debut was [all about] the nerves of making a Test debut, and the story of falling down the stairs, and my foot coming out of my shoe, trying to get it back on and struggling, kneeling down and getting a few good sentences from the crowd. And then walking out and actually saying to myself, 'it can't go much worse than it's already started'. And then a great debut for myself.
"The next time I came back, there was a big build-up to that Test match with 'mintgate'. That was a different way of handling pressure, there were a lot of eyes on me during that build-up, it was more my character that was tested throughout that week. Getting through that, personally, was great for me; it showed me a lot of resilience for my own character that was good to learn about my own personality.
"This time it feels a lot different. Mentally, it will be key for me to make sure I am switched on for the game tomorrow. I will fall back on the past success that I have had and, hopefully, it will be a good day for the team as well."
South Africa are still fine-tuning the balance of their line-up as they look to offer chances to as many of their likely squad for next year's World Cup as possible. Allrounders Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius may get a look-in, while left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi might be included if the drop-in pitch suits slow bowlers.
"For this game we are still looking at combinations," du Plessis said. "The obvious thing would be to play the same team, but we are constantly thinking of how we can get guys more experienced for the World Cup and to fine-tune that perfect balance we are after.
"We're a team that's finding its feet in terms of our balance. I think we've got the right kind of cricketers, we've got the right skills in the cricketers that we want on the bus. The thing that's been a challenge in the last year is just finding the perfect balance. I feel like we're always either a little bit light in the bowling, or a little bit light on the batting side."
Du Plessis admitted that he was well aware of Australia's off-field troubles, but wouldn't comment on whether or not he felt Steven Smith and David Warner's bans should be lifted.
"It's difficult for me to comment on that. Initially, when it happened, we thought that it was harsh on the players because there have been so many players that have been in similar boats. But it's difficult for me to comment on this because I'm a South African, I'm not an Australian, and I wasn't here to understand how the people were affected by it or offended by it. And the backlash that we saw in South Africa was massive. We could see that it's probably bigger in Australia than it has been or will be anywhere else in the world. So for me to comment on whether or not they should be banned, I don't think it's my place."