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Rediff.com  » Cricket » 'India vs SA not be-all-and-end-all of World Cup'

'India vs SA not be-all-and-end-all of World Cup'

Last updated on: March 12, 2011 00:03 IST

It is being billed as the match of the tournament -- the India versus South Africa clash at the VCA stadium in Jamtha on Saturday, that is!

And Nagpur is bracing up for it.

While almost all hotels in the Orange City are booked till the weekend, a packed house is expected at the VCA stadium in Jamtha, many already queuing up outside the venue with that faint hope of making it in.

- World Cup coverage

And there is a certainty regarding another thing as well. The match, the sixth one-dayer to be played at the venue, will definitely be getting unprecedented media coverage -- what with members of the fourth estate already making a beeline for the same.

Graeme SmithHowever, amid all this hype and expectation, it is surprising to hear a different, albeit a bit shocking, take on the match altogether.

"Obviously, I reckon the team [South Africa] doing well tomorrow. But I would not say that this game is more important than the others," said Graeme Smith, when asked to elaborate on the hype around the game.

- Will Dhoni deliver yet again in Jamtha?

"It is not the be-all-and-end-all of the World Cup," he continued, adding, "The knockout stage is. The group phase is all about qualifying for the knock-out stage. Tomorrow it is obviously an important game to both the teams in the terms of confidence, and both will be playing well."

South Africa's captain predicted the game will be an evenly-balanced contest, more so considering the frequency with which the two countries have played each other recently.

"I think any time you play a team at home they will be favourites, naturally," said Smith.

"I think both the teams are accustomed to each other now. We have played a lot of cricket recently and know each other pretty well now. This will be another good game for the World Cup. Obviously, both the sides would like come out winning."  

He was confident of his team's bowling attack deflating the famed Indian batting line-up.

- Dhoni hints at playing extra seamer

"It has been a very successful tournament thus far for our bowlers," he Smith, adding, "Everything we have tried has worked in the bowling front.

"As a bowling unit, we have been very strong in this tournament so far. The unpredictability of our attack has held us in good stead."

Smith expressed happiness about the fact that South Africa is finally getting to play back-to-back games -- the Proteas play Ireland (March 15) and Bangladesh (March 19) soon after their match against India.

"We might have played only three games till now, but the good thing is that we have to play in quick succession now.

 "We have an opportunity now and a game which can help us gain momentum, something which is important for us after the long breaks that we have had thus far.

"It's been a stop-start so far. But these matches will help us carry the momentum to the knock-out stages." 

Photograph: Getty Images

Bikash Mohapatra Nagpur