Players can play freely after WC squad announcement: Smith

Port Elizabeth: Trailing 1-2 in the series, captain Graeme Smith said South Africa learned a few lessons from India in the last two ODIs but added that, with the announcement of the World Cup squad, the home team can afford to play more freely in the must-win third ODI here on Friday.

After a rousing start to the series with a convincing 135-run win in the first ODI at Durban, South Africa slumped to back-to-back defeats in the next two matches in Johannesburg (by one run) and Cape Town (by two wickets).

And Smith today admitted that there is plenty of pressure on his boys to draw parity in the series at St George`s Park.

"I think it (pressure) could be a blessing in disguise for us. We have trained a lot together over the last period of time. May be it`s about just lightening things a little bit. But tomorrow we have to come out and play our best. Now that the World Cup squad is announced, there will be no pressure on the players."

"So, hopefully we can play with more freedom tomorrow," the skipper said on the even of the match.

He said a small mistake tomorrow can cost South Africa the series, so they will have to come out with a positive frame of mind.

"Losing is never a nice thing but there were some important lessons for us in the last two games. Now it`s time for us to learn from those lessons. We have to keep a good positive frame of mind, an attacking frame of mind tomorrow. It is an important game for us in this series, a game that we must win. So, it`s a good challenge for us as a team," Smith said.

South Africa are on the verge of their first ODI series defeat against India at home soil, and the skipper said to evade such a situation they will have to play as a unit.

"It`s exciting, it`s an opportunity for all of us to perform. I don`t think it`s about any individual. There will be eleven of us on the field tomorrow and we got to trust each other. Each of us will have to perform our roles. We got to be good enough to get over the line," Smith said.

Lauding Indian offspinner Harbhajan Singh for his impressive performance with the ball so far, Smith insisted that the home team batsmen will have to get their acts together in the batting powerplay in the remainder of the series.

"Harbhajan has bowled extremely well. The nature of the wickets also suited him. The wickets haven`t been easy to bat on. India also struggled to bat on those wickets.”

"I thought if we could have got 20 more runs the other day the result could have been different. The disappointing thing for me is that we were well set to get those 20 runs, but we lost five wickets for 30 runs in the powerplay. In Johannesburg too, we lost six wickets for 19 during the powerplay," he said.

"If you probably take that out of our game, we would probably have been 3-0 up in the series. Other than that, we have played decent cricket throughout the vast majority of the games. We just haven`t handled those moments where we needed to kick on and make the right decisions. Hopefully, we can play with a good spirit tomorrow and get those things right," Smith added.

The home team captain, however, was of the view that toss would have an impact on the result tomorrow.

"With the lights not being so great here, toss is always going to play a big role but teams have won chasing here. The weather is not something I am going to sleep over tonight. I will be thinking about the game on hand tomorrow," Smith said.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the World Cup squad, Smith said, "The young guys bring something fresh and new to the environment. There is not a lot of guys in our squad who have been to World Cups before and that`s a positive thing for

"The guys that have been there can use their experiences to help grow the young guys and put them in a better place. The young guys are bringing something fresh and new to the team."


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