New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) South African batting all-rounder Faf du Plessis wants to flourish in his role of opening for defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in his bid to break into the national Test team.
Du Plessis made his ODI debut against India last January. Since then, he has established himself as a regular member of the ODI team, but he is yet to make his debut in Tests or Twenty20 Internationals.
Now, the Pretoria-born cricketer's prime target is to play in the longest format of the game.
"My aim is to get into the Test team. I know it is tough considering the likes of (Hashim) Amla, (Jacques) Kallis and AB (de Villers) are not going anywhere. So I just have to keep scoring runs and hope one day I get there," Du Plessis told IANS in an interview.
Du Plessis, who has played 21 ODIs, remains confident about his place in the ODI team.
"In the ODIs I think I have established my place. I don't know about T20. They are still trying out combinations for the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka," he said.
Du Plessis realises he needs to be contribute with his leg-breaks at the highest level, something he does quite regularly in South African domestic circuit. Most recently, he took a four-wicket haul for Titans in the Twenty20 final against the Lions.
Though he doesn't get much opportunities to bowl in the ODIs, he wants to change the perception with his performance in the IPL. In 21 ODIs, Du Plesis has bowled just 20 overs.
"I have to be consistent both with the bat and ball in order to play regularly for South Africa in all the formats of the game. I have been bowling a lot back home and took 18 wickets in nine Twenty20 games. If I bowl more, I have a better chance of getting into the Test team," he said.
Du Plessis faces stiff competition from two southpaws, Jean Paul Duminy and Jacques Rudolph for a place in the Test team.
"You are not getting rid of Amla, de Villiers and Kallis, so I can only come in for those guys," he quipped.
The 27-year-old was signed by Super Kings last year and also enjoys the backing of coach Stephen Fleming. The former New Zealand captain has high regards for Du Plesis, who he things brings a lot of experience to the team.
Du Plessis said he is enjoying his role as an opener.
"Being part of the biggest Twenty20 tournament in the world has changed my life. Opening is new for me. I normally bat five for South Africa and four for my domestic team, sometimes three. It is the first time I am opening actually and it is like a learning curve. I guess it should help me improve as a player," he said.
Asked the difference in experience of playing in IPL and South African Twenty20 league (Miway Challenge), Du Plessis said: "You really can't compare the two. IPL is the biggest tournament in the world. There (South Africa) we have maximum 10,000 people coming to watch the match, here 40,000 is a normal number. Plus, you are getting to play with some of the top international players and you get to learn so much from them."
Du Plesis said IPL has bridged the cultural gap between international players.
"It has changed cricket a lot. The game is a lot more friendly now than in the past. Culturally, it is a lot different here but I get on very well with the Indian guys. Thanks to IPL, I have come close to Suresh Raina. We stay in regular touch on BBM and congratulate each other whenever we do well for our national teams," he said.
(Bharat Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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