Proteas look ‘to call the shots’

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur says the best way to stop all-conquering Australia winning their third World Cup in a row is to put the pressure on Ricky Ponting’s team from the very first ball of Wednesday’s semifinal.

Two-time defending champions Australia seek to extend their 21-game winning streak and march into yet another final in Barbados on Saturday.

They have not been beaten in 27 matches at the premier limited-overs tournament. The only match in these 27 outings that the Aussies did not win was a tied semifinal in 1999 against South Africa.

”We’re looking to call the shots, hoping to come out firing and get that pressure first up,” Arthur told reporters on Tuesday.

Arthur echoed the words of skipper Graeme Smith, who said a day earlier that his side would go into the game ”looking to execute the way we want to play the game, and not sit there expecting Australia to play a bad game”.

Arthur said aggression was the key component in the way both South Africa and Australia played limited-overs cricket.

”It’s now a power-based game. It’s all about being aggressive, having the confidence to take a risk and hit the ball up,” said Arthur. ”It’s all about absorbing pressure and then applying pressure.

”The team that does that over a period of time is going to be the winner.”

Arthur said South Africa allowed Australia to dictate the terms in their preliminary league contest a month ago in which Australia posted a runaway 83-run triumph.

”One aspect of our game that we’ve worked upon is that we allowed Australia to put us under pressure, but we battled to come out of that by getting a big partnership upfront,” Arthur said.

Australia dominated that game in St Kitts by coasting to a huge score of 377. Although South Africa got off to a fast start, they lost their way in the middle overs and were bundled out for 294.

”We were obviously disgusted after that match, but after six games we are 3-3 … that’s how we’re approaching the semifinal,” said Arthur.

”We’ve done a lot of thinking after that match. We’ve analysed quite a lot, we took all the videos and worked on the St Kitts game and the way Australia played.”

He said South Africa had tried to make a game play after picking up some trends that Australian skipper Ponting used during that match.

Arthur said the South African players were very calm leading up the semifinal.

”We’re approaching the semifinal with confidence, calmness and patience,” he said. ”A huge game can be hyped up so much that players get overanxious. We try to play it down, so that the guys get in a really good space … fit mentally and technically.”

Arthur said getting to the final would be a massive boost for South African cricket.

”The support from back home is absolutely unbelievable and amazing,” he said. ”When you’ve got a country rallying behind you like we have, there’s a responsibility of not letting the whole population down.” — Sapa-AP

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