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South Africa to stick to spin against New Zealand: Smith

Mirpur: South Africa have switched from a pace-centric line-up to a spin-dominated attack this World Cup and skipper Graeme Smith today said he expects the strategy to continue paying dividends when they take on a "street-smart" New Zealand in the quarterfinals on Friday.

The Proteas` purposeful shift from pace to spin has worked wonders for them as despite having fast bowlers in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in their ranks, Smith has chosen to give the new ball to off-spinner Johan Botha or left-arm spinner Robin Peterson often during the league stage.

And the move seemed to have paid rich dividends, as Peterson has taken 14 wickets so far, while the third slow bowler in the team, leg-spinner Imran Tahir has chipped in with 12.

"The thing about our three spinners is they`re very different from each other. They`ve all performed different roles at different times, but worked well together," said Smith.

"The versatility of the guys has been great. Imran`s definitely been the more attacking option for us. To have him in the line-up adds a bit more to me as a captain. “

"Robbie (Peterson) has been around for a long time but it is only now that people have started to show a lot of confidence in him as a cricketer. Through that faith and confidence, he`s starting to believe more in himself," he added.

Smith admitted that even the spinners are excited to be playing on these tracks as they can utilise their talent here.

"Spinners love being here, especially South African spinners. They don`t get as much help back home, so to be able to execute their skills in these conditions is very exciting for them."

Smith, however, feels everyone in the squad has contributed to the team`s success so far in the tournament, as South Africa topped Group B with five wins from six games.

But admitted that with everyone performing well, it is difficult to leave out players from the eleven.

"Selection has always been tough and it`s getting tougher as guys perform well. It`s an ideal challenge to have players performing well and that you have a good squad of players to pick from.”

"We are not relying on four, five guys to win us the World Cup," said Smith.

Three-time semifinalists South Africa have always faltered when the World Cup approached its business-end and that has earned them the tag of cricket`s perennial chokers.

In last five editions of the World Cup, the Proteas crashed out three times in the semifinals, once in the quarterfinal and another time in the first round.

And Smith said he was not ready to take any chance against the "street-smart" Kiwis.

"New Zealand have always been a very street-wise, street-smart team. They have obviously got some power-batters in the top order, guys who can take the game away from you.”

"From the bowling point of view, they can take the pace off the ball as a lot of their guys can bowl medium-pace or change of pace. And they have got a spinner like (skipper Daniel) Vettori. You can`t take any guy in their line-up for granted. We need to play well to beat them," said Smith.

The Black Caps have won three of their five World Cup matches against South Africa, including a five-wicket victory in the Super Eights round of the 2007 edition.

Smith insisted that the presence of former South African pace spearhead Allan Donald as New Zealand`s bowling coach was not a worrying factor for his team.

"If we stressed over a South African in another team I don`t think we`d sleep much.”

"Allan was a great performer for South Africa and we wish him all the best in his role as New Zealand bowling coach. I`m sure he believes he can add value to their environment, but our environment has changed a lot since Allan was a part of it."

PTI

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