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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Smith hopes to capitalize on England's lack of confidence

Smith hopes to capitalize on England's lack of confidence

Last updated on: March 5, 2011 23:24 IST

'We will select the team according to the conditions'

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Krishnakumar Padmanabhan in Chennai

Two constants that have plagued South African cricket in the past have been ill-luck and predictable bowling.

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There was a time when South Africa would open its bowling with two pace bowlers, replaced by two who were marginally slower than the earlier two, rounded off by a semi-decent spinner filling in as the fast men caught their breadth.

While there is not much they can do with their luck, the South African bowling coming into this world cup has been anything but predictable. In their group match against the West Indies, they even used three spinners -- one of them being an attacking leggie born in Lahore.

Asked about the composition for Sunday's big clash against England, Smith said his side were familiar with the conditions and that they will decide on the playing XI after considering the conditions.

"The conditions are different to what it was in Delhi and Mohali. It looks like a normal Chennai wicket," Smith said.

"So we will select the team according to the conditions," he added.


Image: Graeme Smith relaxes during a practice session
Photographs: Getty Images
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Injury worry to AB de Villers

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On the new found spin options, he said: "I think we have got more variations and options available. It is always the balance between the two (fast and spin), and having the options to do both is nice to have. Imran Tahir gives us an attacking spin option. Nice to have variations and be unpredictable."

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South Africa have by far, looked the most balanced team on paper at this World Cup and the most important factor for them is that the squad is free of niggles and injuries, unlike the other contenders, almost all of whom have key players knackered.

If there was any worry for South Africa on that front, it was a minor back problem for AB de Viliers, their in-form man who has scored back-to-back centuries in the two games that South Africa have played so far.

"AB has come through with his back injury and will be fit for tomorrow's match," Smith said.


Image: Ab de Villers
Photographs: Getty Images
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Team to beat

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Despite being the team to beat in this World Cup, Smith said South Africa have to be wary of England, who he said would want to come back strongly after their shock loss to Ireland.

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"England-South Africa is always a big game," Smith said.

"The English are a very competitive side, and tomorrow is no different. We expect them to want to perform well.

"They are a very proud team. They have a good last couple of years and have been a credible opposition in the long run. (The loss against) Ireland would have hurt them a lot," he added.

But going into this match, surprisingly, England have beaten South Africa seven times in their last eight encounters.

"They played well in those eight matches," he said.

"They were the better side in those two series. It is as simple as that. The key is to carry on playing as a unit. We hope to be one step ahead of England tomorrow," Smith added.


Image: Graeme Smith celebrates with Johan Botha after a fall of a wicket

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Don't count the English revenge

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Having said that Smith said England's bowling has not been up to the mark in this tournament and that they also lack confidence after the Ireland loss.

"To say they have struggled is a fair assessment on the way they have bowled, but they are quality bowlers," Smith said.

"Maybe it is wrong to go by what has gone before. But if we can lay the platform tomorrow, maybe we can take advantage of their lack of confidence," he added.

On the conditions ahead of game, he said there is not much difference between chasing and batting first in a day game in Chennai.

"It has been pretty even. But this being a day game, we might encounter a little bit of swing up front. It is almost like being back in real India now," he said.


Image: England's Andre Strauss and Ravi Bopara during a pratice session
Photographs: Reuters
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'Key always is how you defend the total'

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Asked about a winning total on this wicket, he said that more than how much a team has on board, it is how it defends it that is key to winning.

"So far, Bangalore has been the best batting wicket to bat on. The other grounds have not seen as many high scores being posted. But the key always is how you defend them," Smith said.


Image: Morne Morkel bowls during a practice session
Photographs: Getty Images
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