We have closed the gap between us and Australia: Smith

South Africa, along with Pakistan, will be the last major team to switch to one-day mode ahead of the World Cup.

While no other Test cricket has been played anywhere in the world since the end of the Ashes series in Australia on January 5, South Africa’s series against Pakistan continues until January 30.

Before playing against Pakistan, South Africa had three Tests against India — a total of six Tests in 47 days before turning their attention to a World Cup challenge which they are confident of meeting.

Leading up to their departure for the West Indies, South Africa will play five one-day internationals against Pakistan, between February 4 and 14, during which they hope to maintain their ranking as the second-best one-day international team behind Australia.

Captain Graeme Smith wants the Pakistan series to be a dress rehearsal for the World Cup and it is likely that the squad for the series will be the same, or virtually so, as that which will travel to the Caribbean.

Smith said he was confident about his team’s chances.

“We’re ranked number two in the world and we’ve closed the gap between us and Australia. We’re pretty confident of our ability to do well but we are realistic, there are a few other nations that can also do well.”

On their last visit to the West Indies, two seasons ago, South Africa were unbeaten in both Tests and one-day internationals, winning all five one-day games.

Since then they have won 21 out of 33 one-day internationals, with 11 losses and one no-result.

Key players are captain Smith, whose form has been patchy but who is capable of dominating games as an opening batsman, experienced all-rounders Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock, quick-scoring batsmen Herschelle Gibbs and the big-hitting Justin Kemp and combative wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.

South Africa’s pace bowlers, who include Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel and the supremely accurate Pollock, have made opponents work hard for their runs but a weakness is that there is no world-class spin bowler.

Selection convenor Haroon Lorgat continues to state that the final squad will be chosen entirely on merit.

Source:The News

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Written by Team CricketViewer on January 21st, 2007 with 77 Views

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