“It’s exciting for me,” said du Plessis on the eve of the first Test in Galle on Wednesday, 11 July. “ I enjoy the different challenges that come with it. The sub-continent is a difficult place to come and play so you have to motivate your players to understand that there is an opportunity to do something great.
As a team, we have taken great steps in that direction for the last two years, that is something that has always been a big motivator for myself and the team. We are not a team that only wants to win in South Africa.”
This South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, which includes two Tests, five one-day internationals, and a lone Twenty20 International will mark as the 25th year anniversary of bilateral series between the sides, which began in 1993.
Under the leadership of du Plessis, South Africa have won seven Test series and this series will be his first assignment in the sub-continent.
“It’s always a great series playing against Sri Lanka,” he said. “ Many teams say they want to test themselves when they are playing in away conditions, and South Africa have a proud record when touring away. We have only lost two series recently, which were against India and England, and the last time we were here (2014) we played well and won the series for the second time since unity.
“We expect this series to be extremely tough, Sri Lanka in their home conditions are a different team. We played well against them in South Africa, but that was in our conditions where the pitches favoured quick bowling. We are expecting a different set of pitches, very dry, so we are looking forward to some fun and games.”
South Africa will be playing on a likely spin-friendly pitch, but du Plessis is confident that his pace unit would also be as effective as their spinners.
“We had a look at the wicket and it is quite dry,” du Plessis pointed out. “We need to consider whether or not we will play seven batsmen or two spinners, that’s a call we still need to make.
“We certainly believe that our three seamers, on a dry pitch, can get wickets. The ball will reverse-swing if the middle is dry and spinning, with pace, reverse-swing is always a factor,” he continued.
“Test matches get won by your bowling department and their ability to get wickets,” he explained. “We have been lucky to have a great pace attack, even with Keshav Maharaj coming into the Test team over the last year, he has also been an exceptional bowler for us. I do feel that within our bowling attack we have the ability to take 20 wickets on any surface.”