South Africa wary of England fightback

Updated: Mar 05, 2011, 18:31 PM IST

Chennai: Graeme Smith said that wounded England is expected to come hard on Sunday’s clash following their humiliating defeat against Ireland but South Africa is well prepared for the fight.

England was shocked by minnows Ireland in their previous league outing while Smith and Co. are on a high following two comprehensive victories.

"England`s performance has been really credible over a long period of time now. You got to respect them. You got to know that they have got the ability to play really well on Sunday. As a team we know that. So we have prepared for the best England team on Sunday. We expect them to bounce back," Smith said on the eve of the match.

"Obviously the Ireland win would have hurt them a lot. But on Sunday there will be a very different game." Smith said.

England, with a tie against India and win against the Netherlands, are in a must-win situation on Sunday`s clash.

"I think England-South Africa always really big games always been really competitive. This game we look forward to.All our series and games have been exciting to watch. So I expect Sunday will be no difference. We obviously expect England to perform really well. We are set up for a really exciting game," Smith said.

The Proteas captain said the key for South Africa would be carry on playing as a unit and perform their roles well.

"We just got to come out tomorrow be solid. Be consistent and perform our roles. Hopefully be one step ahead of England that will be nice. But as I said earlier, I expect England to be really good on Sunday. Obviously it’s always a big game for them. From our perspective we just want to be consistent as we have been in the tournament so far."

Talking about the conditions here, he said it was a bit warmer than Delhi and Mohali.

"But it looks like a normal Chennai wicket. We started our preparation here in Chennai before the tournament (with the warm up game). So we have spent some time here," he added.

Asked whether he still thought the Chepauk ground would offer assistance to swing bowling as has been the case traditionally, he said, "With day games, I think you get slightly different conditions. With a 9.30 am start, you might count a little bit of swing up front like we had the day game in Mohali where we got a little bit of that stuff. We are pretty much prepared for what to expect in Chennai."

Smith also informed that A B de Villers has recovered from his back problem and is fit for Sunday`s match.

Smith agreed that Pakistan-born leg spinner Imran Tahir has sharpened their attack a lot more.

"He gives us an attacking spin option which is exciting. From a captain`s point of view it is nice to have all these variations and use a few more different things throughout the game. It certainly has added impetus to our attack especially in the middle periods. But overall I think we have got a side with more variations and lot more options available."

On England beating the South Africans seven times out of last eight matches, he said, "I think the reason is that they played better than us in those eight games. They had been better than us in those series."

He replied in the negative when asked whether his decision to relinquish captaincy after the World Cup was affecting the side.

"Things have been very normal in the squad. Hopefully it provides more motivation for the guys. For me, it is a personal decision. A decision I am at peace with.

"I have been on the job for over eight years now. Which is lot longer than most of the captains last these days. I am proud of what I have done and I wanted to give myself the best chance to finish off with a World Cup. Exciting period for me to have the opportunity to work with different kind of players, bowlers."

On what would be the safe score in view of Ireland`s successful chase of 328 against England, he said each ground was different.

"Bangalore looked the best batting surface in the tournament so far. The scores have been very high there. How you defend them again is always the key. Obviously you always want to post the biggest total possible batting first. But I
guess it is how you defend it."

On his own form, having scored 14 and 45 in the last two matches, the Proteas captain said, “I got starts pretty much in the entire warm up games. This stage of tournament I am feeling pretty solid."

Reacting to the stone throwing incident on the West Indies team bus in Bangladesh, he said, "No one really likes to see such incidents. We got to really trust in our security. Hopefully that wouldn`t happen again and lesson would be learnt out of this."