Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tense Victory Suits Smith as He Sets Sights on England

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tense Victory Suits Smith as He Sets Sights on England

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Sports Correspondent

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SOUTH AFRICA captain Graeme Smith believes his side's narrow win over New Zealand was the ideal preparation for facing England at Trent Bridge tomorrow.

Despite managing only 128 for seven from their 20 overs, the Proteas were ruthlessly efficient in the field to seal a one-run victory and make it two wins from two matches ahead of their first game in the Super Eight stage.

And if the England skipper Paul Collingwood was hoping the South Africans' limp batting represented a chink in their armour, Smith dismissed any ideas of weakness by insisting his team will not bat so poorly again.

The outcome of yesterday's match was immaterial, as both teams had already qualified for the next stage, and Smith said: "It's probably a good thing to have made a low score. A few of us learned a few important lessons before we go into the Super Eight.

"I believe we have the batting to play well in all situations. We just got it wrong against New Zealand.

"When you look at the bigger picture, it was fantastic for us to have such a high-pressure game, especially from a bowling perspective. We had to defend a small total under pressure, and we managed it."

Smith also sought to calm the waters as he and his team prepared for another encounter with Kevin Pietersen.

Since the batsman chose to represent England instead of the land of his birth, encounters between him and the South Africans have usually been fraught, if hyped, affairs.

Pietersen and Smith, in particular, have had few kind words for one another, the former describing the latter as "an absolute muppet" in his autobiography, but the Proteas skipper seems ready to put the row behind him.

"I don't think there's animosity there," continued Smith, who topscored for his side against the Black Caps with 33. "There will always be the competitiveness between players. …

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