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Faf is back in town


That resolute mindset came in handy two years ago, as he returned to South Australia as the pantomime villain in a ball-tampering scandal

There is no doubt that Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis will simply get back to the business of scoring when South Africa take on Australia in the second ODI on Friday. Picture: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

South African skipper Faf du Plessis returns to a place that holds some very special memories for him this week, with his side in Adelaide for the second one-day international against Australia.

The Proteas lead the three-match joust after an impressive start in Perth, and they will be trying to secure another series win over their rivals at the earliest opportunity. For Du Plessis, the return to the picturesque Adelaide will have added significance, because there have been some serious, personal milestones achieved there.

His Test debut might seem like a long time ago now, but his 376-ball knock saw South Africa hang on for a tense draw, and secure the Test series when he first came to Adelaide with the Proteas.

Immediately, he made a name for himself as a player capable of shutting off everything else; all the noise, the tension and the pressure, and play each ball on its merits.

That resolute mindset came in handy two years ago, as he returned to South Australia as the pantomime villain in a ball-tampering scandal.

The South African skipper had been accused of using mints to help shine the ball during the Test series, and Australian media was all over him. A picture of him walking through the airport, sunglasses on and mint firmly wedged in his cheek, is a vivid reminder of the hysteria that was launched by the South African skipper.

He went to Adelaide as a marked man, and the Proteas formed a laager around him, at least until the day-night Test began. There, Du Plessis let his bat do the talking, even as he arrived to a chorus of boos at the crease.

He made a belligerent, undefeated century, and celebrated with gusto upon reaching the three-figure mark. To say that he can take the heat is an understatement, and Adelaide knows better than most just how much pressure the South African captain can soak up – and still perform.

Having played with the scrutiny of being a debutant, in a crucial game, and then the added strain of a major controversy hanging over his head, Du Plessis could be excused for feeling a bit unnerved by the low-key nature that this week will likely be for him.

The obligatory captain’s press conference ahead of the game will come, but the spotlight is pointed well away from him this time. The Aussie media has bigger problems, with their own team now dealing with the ramifications of a ball-tampering scandal that refuses to die down.

The actual cricket has not been pretty, either, as they were easily dismantled by the South African attack on Sunday. They have issues, far bigger than the whims of the visiting captain being back at a place he holds dear.

Heck, Du Plessis may even have the freedom to go out and smell the roses around the city this time.

Crucially, he holds a very enviable record in Adelaide, with two, contrasting centuries to his name.

Come Friday, it would come as little surprise to the cricket aficionados of Adelaide to learnt that Francois du Plessis has marked his latest visit with yet another international ton.

After all, he scores one every time he is in town. The second one-day international between Australia and South Africa will be on Friday, at 5:20am South African time.

Coverage will be on SuperSport 2.