DURBAN – Proteas captain Faf du Plessis returns to a place that holds some very special memories for him this week, with his team in Adelaide for the second international day against Australia.
South Africa lead a three-match match after an impressive start in Perth, and will try to secure another series win over their rivals at the earliest opportunity.
For Du Plessis, the return to the beautiful region for the second ODI on Friday will add meaning, because there are some serious personal milestones there.
Debut The test may seem long, but the 376-ball knock saw South Africa survive for a tense draw and secure the Test series when he first went to Adelaide.
Soon he made a name for himself as a player who was able to turn off everything else and play every ball on his strength.
That strong mindset was useful two years ago, when he returned to South Australia as a pantomime villain in the ball-tampering scandal.
Captain Proteas has been accused of using candy to help polish the ball during the Test series, and Australian media are on it.
Photos of him walking at the airport, sunglasses and mint firmly on the cheeks, are clear reminders of the hysteria caused by Du Plessis.
He went to Adelaide as a marked man, and Proteas formed a laager around him, at least until the Test at night began. There, Du Plessis let his bat speak, even when he arrived at the fold for a chorus of ridicule.
He made a century of enmity, invincibility, and celebrated with enthusiasm.
To say that he can take heat is a statement, and Adelaide knows better than most how much pressure the South African captain can absorb – and still appear.
After playing with supervision to become a debutant, in a crucial game, and then additional tension from the great controversy that hangs over his head, Du Plessis can be forgiven for feeling a little scared by the low key nature this week will likely be for him.
The mandatory captain's conference ahead of the match will come, but the spotlight is aimed far from him this time.
A good start for this series. 3 amazing quicks. Good men thrown @ KagisoRabada25 @ DaleSteyn62 @NgidiLungi .
– Faf Du Plessis (@ faf1307)
November 4, 2018
The Australian media has a bigger problem, with their own team now dealing with the consequences of the ball destruction scandal which refuses to subside.
The actual crickets were not good enough, because they were easily dismantled by the SA attack on Sunday.
There are some moments of brilliance in 6 Proteas goalkeeper wins against Australia. What is yours? #ProteaFire #AUSvSA pic.twitter.com/dyskoSn0RH
– South African Cricket (@OfficialCSA)
November 4, 2018
They have a problem that is far greater than the captain's return visit to the place he loves.
Heck, Du Plessis might even have the freedom to get out and smell roses around the city this time.
He holds a record that should be replicated in Adelaide, with two centuries contrasting with his name.
Come on Friday, it will be a small surprise for Adelaide cricket fans to find out that Francois du Plessis has marked his last visit with another ton of international. After all, he got one score every time he was in town.
* The second ODI between Australia and South Africa will be held on Friday, starting at 5.20 am SA time. Coverage will be displayed on SuperSport 2.