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Ntini set to miss SA opener
March 15, 2007 02:17 IST
South Africa are likely to be without spearhead Makhaya Ntini in their World Cup opener against the Netherlands in Basseterre on Friday.
Fast bowler Ntini did not travel to the Caribbean with the rest of the squad because he remained in South Africa to be with his wife at the birth of the couple's second child.
Ntini was due to arrive in St Kitts later on Wednesday but captain Graeme Smith said he would not be rushed into the team.
"With Makhaya arriving late we'll give him some time to find his feet," South African captain Graeme Smith told a news conference on Wednesday.
"We wanted him to sort out his family business first, we don't want him worrying about his wife and daughter.
"We wanted his mind fully focused and we feel he will have enough time to prepare before the game against Scotland (on Tuesday)."
Smith said the South Africans, the world's top-ranked team, wanted to prove their superiority in their matches against the Netherlands and Scotland.
"We've played superb cricket for the past year-and-a-half in the one-day format of the game, and we know that if we perform to our ability we have the players, the team and the passion to perform well here," Smith said.
"We'll definitely be putting out our first XI for those games."
South Africa had the worst of suspect pitches in both of the warm-up matches against Ireland and Pakistan in Trinidad, but Smith said the surfaces in St Kitts met with his team's approval.
"The guys have had some good facilities here," Smith said. "The facilities in Trinidad, both for practices and matches, were poor.
"Since we've been in St Kitts it's been fantastic, and the pitch here (at Warner Park, the match venue) looks pretty good.
"Hopefully in the games against the Netherlands and Scotland the guys can spend some time in the middle."
Smith said the South Africans were geared up to begin the tournament proper.
"You can feel in the training sessions we've had this week that the intensity is going up. The players know we're getting towards game time," he said.
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