Mohali: Despite their 231-run win over the Netherlands in a World Cup Group B match here Thursday, South Africa’s captain Graeme Smith expects a tougher game against Ireland .
Smith, who wore a broad smile after the win, said he couldn’t sleep for an hour after watching Ireland upset England in a world record chase in Bangalore Wednesday night.
Smith said he was highly impressed with the Irish team, whom they will face in Kolkata March 15.
“I could not sleep last night for an hour after that (Ireland-England) match. I think it was a great game of cricket. With the performance in this and the last World Cup, Ireland have proven that they have really improved. They are capable of beating any team. It was just great to see the spirit in which they played,” said Smith at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium.
On their convincing win Thursday, Smith said he was confident of a big score against the Dutch after Hashim Amla (113) and AB de Villiers (134) shared a record third-wicket stand of 221 runs.South Africa scored 351 for five in their 50 overs.
Lauding Amla and De Villiers, Smith said the two batsmen played extremely well on a track that was a bit damp after overnight rain.
“We knew that the pitch would seam around because of the cold weather. The plan was to settle down and set a platform for a big score. Thanks to Hashim and AB we managed to do that. It was a good win for us today,” he said.
Smith also defended the decision of playing an extra batsman in Morne van Wyk in place of spinner Johan Botha.
“Keeping the nature of the pitch in mind, we went for an extra batsman. It was a tactical decision and something that will change from match to match,” he said.
Van Wyk also kept wickets to gave some rest to De Villiers, who has a stiff back.
De Villiers thanked his captain for giving him a respite from keeping.
“It was the captain’s and the management’s decision to give me rest and I really needed rest from keeping wickets. I am enjoying my batting at the moment. I was not up to the mark in the India series but it is great to be back in form during a tournament like the World Cup. The wicket was tricky and I focussed on watching the ball. I just played my normal game,” he said.
South Africa next face England in Chennai Sunday and will then travel to Nagpur to take on India March 12.