India are favourites but we want to win: Smith
Nagpur: South Africa captain Graeme Smith on Friday said although tomorrow`s clash against "favourites" India is not a make-or-break type, they are thinking of nothing less than a victory.
"This will be another good game for World Cup. Obviously, both the sides would like come on winning side. I don`t think, the result tomorrow will be the be-all or end-all. There is lot of cricket to be played. One thing in our mind is that we would want to win tomorrow," Smith said at the pre-match media conference.
However, he also sought to put pressure on the hosts by saying that India were favourites in tomorrow`s group B clash. "I think any time you play a team at home, they will naturally be favourites."
The South African captain was also all praise for his opposite number when asked about Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s philosophy of having restrictive options rather than going for wicket-taking ones.
"I have got a lot of respect for MS. I like him as a person and as a captain. A team has its own philosophy. India have a powerful batting line-up and they have used their part-timers well. The key to success against India is to have a partnership going. Hopefully we can use the running between the wickets to our advantage," he stated.
He feels that it will be a big challenge for the current crop to change the perception among people about being labelled as `chokers` by the cricket fraternity.
"It is a challenge for the current bunch to change the perception that we are chokers. But we cannot hide the fact that we haven`t won a World Cup and any major ICC tournament," the skipper was candid in his confession.
Asked about how one changes that perception, Smith answered, "To be honest, this squad is keeping the influences out."
He further added, "Coming into the tournament no one said we were favourites and we became favourites. Then we lose a game and suddenly we are not favourites anymore. But we are working as a group. It should not be a short term thing or a World Cup thing. But the self belief is there. We don`t know what is going to happen in tournament. We keep giving our best and we keep preparing our best daily. Keep improving our performances. That is what we are looking to do."
About the lessons learnt from their six-run loss against England, he said, "I think the spirit around the team is terrific. It is important that the middle-order finds energy flow and we get the rhythm going. Hopefully they do in this game and get the confidence going. I don`t think that we will encounter a wicket as difficult as the one in Chennai."
The skipper didn`t come out clear on whether the team management would risk playing Imran Tahir who is nursing a broken left-thumb.
"It is always a selection thing. We will decide on it tonight. We just need to know whether we want to risk him tomorrow or not."
The southpaw was a bit embarrassed when asked about his incapability of not being able to solve the Zaheer Khan riddle as the Indian pacer has got him out in most of the times.
"Zaheer is a quality bowler with the new ball. It is a challenge and I have worked on it with Duncan Fletcher." The Proteas captain is fully aware about the Indian team`s discomfort against the pace and swing that speed merchants Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel generate.
"I think all in all our bowlers have had a good amount of success against India. We obviously know each other pretty well. We played a whole summer. This is the ground where Steyn was successful (referring to his 10-wicket haul in South Africa`s innings). We have certain plans up our sleeves and we wouldn`t like to divulge those," he said.
With dew unlikely to become a factor and the outfield being lush green, Smith reckons that Steyn is unlikely to get the white ball to reverse as much as he did in Chennai.
The skipper termed his team`s unpredictability as its USP. "Our unpredictability is our strength. Nowadays it`s very difficult to have a plan against us."