Durban: South African captain Graeme Smith on Tuesday said since a few World Cup berths are still on offer, the players would be under pressure to perform in the one-day series against India.
Smith said the five-match series, beginning tomorrow, will be a tough but exciting assignment for both the sides.
"It think it is going to be another exciting series, as the Test series was. Both teams have some quality players. A number of players are still playing for spots in the World Cup squad, so it adds an extra incentive to the series.”
"Any player would love to go to the World Cup and have the opportunity to perform well. I guess there`s always that added pressure on the players to perform," Smith said on the eve of the opening match at Kingsmead.
Smith said the series is being played in different conditions from that of sub-continent but they want to go into the World Cup with on a winning note.
"We have to realise that World Cup`s played in totally different conditions to what we are going to be playing here. We would love to have the confidence of performing well here and being successful, it`s not necessarily going to define how well we are going to be in the World Cup.”
"Our mindset is very crucial here in terms of playing really good cricket and getting the confidence up and players getting good performances under their belt. It`s a very different style of playing in the sub-continent and the selection will revolve around that," he said.
Smith said they will definitely miss the all round abilities of Jacques Kallis due to an injury and they trying to develop more all-rounders in the team.
"Obviously Jacques injury does hamper (but) how we control things. He is the main front line all-rounder for us. We are really working hard on developing someone like Wayne Parnell into that sort of all-rounder mold.”
"We got Robin Peterson and Johan Botha in that all-rounders` mode also and someone like Faf de Plessis who is a very good all-round cricketer. There are options but in South Africa, someone like Parnell heads the pack in terms of developing his batting and his bowling and trying to get him to a point where he could play that number eight role with both bat and ball," he said adding that Kallis "won`t play any role in this series".
Smith feels players` mental toughness would be crucial to success in the series.
"I think mindset is always crucial. A lot of our guys have been playing longer formats of the game. Both teams are feeling out things and we certainly want to start being well prepared. We have done some really good preparation behind the scenes.”
"It`s just about the players backing their abilities and skills and going out and executing what they want to do tomorrow. If you start slowly in the shorter formats of the game, you can get found out."
Smith predicted that a score of more than 220 would be competitive on the Kingsmead track.
"There is a lot of stories around Kingsmead going around at night. It depends on the surface. Lately. There has not been a lot of grass on the surface. It can swing a little bit at night. I expect it to be a very good surface tomorrow. It`s ranged from 220 to 300 being competitive here," he said.
Talking about the wickets here, that are different from India, he said, "It`s going to be very difficult to produce that. Generally, one-day wickets in South Africa have always been very good round the country there have always been decent surfaces. The ball can swing around a little bit generally the surfaces are great. It`s going to be very difficult to produce Nagpur out at the Wanderers."
Smith is happy to have an attacking spinner in Imran Tahir in his side but said, they don`t, want out the new comer under pressure.
"Where we play him and how we play him is also a crucial aspect in his management. For us to have an attacking option, especially through the middle overs, is an asset to have. It`s something we haven`t really had.”
"I don`t want to put too much pressure on him and expectation. I just want to let him find his feet and grow in the environment. He has proven to be very successful in domestic cricket and we would like him to find his feet at the international level."
Asked about the innovative shots like switch hit which is getting popular in One-day cricket, Smith the a few new things are bound to come in changing times.
"Everybody is just trying to develop their games, different aspects. Trying to bring new shots into their game, trying to move forward with the times. We have been working on certain things for a while now, especially in one-day cricket. We have had a series against Pakistan and we have been working on a few other things," he said.