ODI series victory will boost World Cup campaign: Smith

Centurion: South African captain Graeme Smith has set his eyes on the cricket World Cup 2011 and said that an ODI series victory over India here tomorrow would boost his side’s morale in the quadrennial showpiece event in
the subcontinent.

“Obviously we’d love to finish the series strong tomorrow and freshen up for World Cup, which is going to be six weeks of having to be in your best. The World Cup is an opportunity that I want to give one good go with the guys and see if we can -- we will love to win the World Cup,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s series deciding fifth and final ODI here.

“No team holds the advantage tomorrow. It’s about who performs better on the day. Obviously, I would love to say that I back us to do well, but you have to go out tomorrow and do the same things well and just perform. Normally, a slightly batting wicket than we have played on in the series so far. So we need to adapt to that,” he said.

Talking about the positives his team has drawn in the series which is locked 2-2, he said, “We have learnt some important lessons in this series in terms of being slightly more street smart. And I think that’s important for us going into the World Cup. These games are pressure games for us, it was important for us to come back and do well.”

Smith said all-rounder Jacques Kallis and Imran Tahir will give his side ample options in the World Cup.

“We have got a lot of options. We have got Jacques back, obviously his all-round capabilities offer us other options. And we still got Imran who is available in our squad, and we are going to use him when we feel ready.”

“As I say we have got enough options to pick from. It’s nice to have guys like Robin Peterson and Johan (Botha) performing well with the bat. If you have got guys performing well at 8 or 9, it lengthens your batting line-up,” he said.

The Proteas captain said since the World Cup squad has been out, the players are free of tension.

“Our focus has been on performing here. It certainly helps that the World Cup squad is out now, and the guys can relax and play a little bit more, to not have that sort of on their backs, the tension of whether they are going to get picked or not.

“Right now it’s about performing for the team. The World Cup is going to be different, totally different conditions, mindset is totally different, the way you select your team, how you play is totally different. You want to play well, and you want to have confidence but World Cup is whole different atmosphere for us,” he said.

Asked about the Test and ODI series being hit by inclement weather, Smith said, “It seems to be the story of the summer. There is so much rain about in South Africa at the moment that it will play a role somewhere.”

“It’s all about going out there and not having one guy to think that he needs to perform brilliantly to win the game for us, it’s about all of us performing our roles and trusting each other to do that.”

“The wickets have been a bit more bowler-friendly. The totals and scores have sort of shown that. It hasn’t been easy to play with freedom,” he said.

Smith, who has been in good nick in the ODI series, said he would look to carry on his form in the World Cup.

“Definitely, I take a lot of confidence out of it. Definitely something I have worked on in the off season, playing well against off-spin, and obviously the short ball. I am pretty happy where I am at the moment. Hopefully I can continue into the world cup.

“Pretty comfortable with where I am. I have made my decisions on where I am going in my own career, and where the team needs to go. It’s been great. For me it’s been a long seven years. It has had a lot of good moments, and I think people have really given me a lot of support. I am grateful for that. I would love to end on a positive note (with a World Cup win).”


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