St Lucia: South African skipper Graeme Smith feels the first hand knowledge of Indian players that his teammates acquired during the IPL would come in handy when the two sides clash in their Group C match of the Twenty20 World Cup here on Sunday.
"We have played against India a little bit of late and with a lot of our guys involved in the Indian Premier League, we have first hand knowledge of a lot of their players," said Smith, who has recovered the finger injury he had suffered during the IPL.
"We have got some really good thoughts about playing India. We have had success (against India) in the last tournament and this tournament generally, we have had a lot of success without going all the way.”
"I think we have only lost two games since this competition started. Even though we have only played two T20s since the last tournament (England, 2009), we have generally got a good record in this format and we like to carry that on," he emphasised.
Smith said India would miss explosive opener Virender Sehwag, who suffered a recurring shoulder injury during the IPL.
"He is a versatile big game player for India. He is a batting all-rounder, who can bowl a bit of spin. He will be a big loss for them," he opined.
Encouraged by their success against India on a slow wicket at Trent Bridge in last year`s championship, South Africa are expected to play more than one spinner in tomorrow`s tie at the Beausejour Cricket Ground tomorrow.
"We beat India at Trent Bridge on a slow turner. Most of the wickets seem to be a little bit slower and taking a bit of spin. Our options are open. In our armoury we have got pace and spin. I think we have got enough there to challenge India`s batters," he said.
The imposing Protean said the time has come for South Africa to shed tag of being big game chokers.
"Every one of these tournaments, each team arriving here is trying to win the tournament. But the nature of the Twenty20 tournament is that the teams are so close together, it is such small margins that make the difference at the end of the day," said Smith.
"Ultimately it is an honour, a privilege to put yourself in a position to win the tournament. It`s our responsibility to do that. This current team has the mettle to hopefully go on to achieve that trophy," Smith added.
"But it`s a long way at the moment. So we are just going to focus on India, which is our first game," he said.
Smith said South Africa are not the favourites to win the title despite a reasonably good international record.
"We are not the only favorites in the tournament. There are a lot of teams that are expected to do well. We are pretty relaxed. The media keeps raising the questions, as do people in the public and so it is something that we have to live with until we actually go on to win a tournament."
Instead of thinking about the title, Smith sought to take one match at a time.
"We have got two important games -- India and Afghanistan -- in our group stage. It is an important phase of the tournament. So we are just focused on playing well in the next
week or so," he said.
Smith asserted that South Africa had prepared well for the event.
"We have had a good week`s preparation, pretty decent warm-up games and we can still improve a hell of a lot, which is encouraging. We just want to take it step by step," he said.
Talking about his experience of playing alongside big-hitting Indian all-rounder Yusuf Pathan in the IPL (Rajasthan Royals), Smith said: "I know that Yusuf likes daal and eats a lot before he walks onto the field. The IPL has offered us an opportunity to learn about new cultures and make new friends and maybe see a side of some of the players we never would have had an opportunity to do if the IPL wasn`t around.”
"But come Sunday, that will be all out the window. International cricket is a different ball game. We want to play hard, play fair and play to win," said Smith before heading for a hit at the nets.