South Africa look for repeat of Nagpur magic

South Africa are hoping for a repeat of Nagpur magic when they meet India in a World Cup Group B clash on Saturday as the Proteas attempt to get their campaign back on track.

Last year, South Africa thrashed India by an innings in a Test, with paceman Dale Steyn playing a key role with 10 wickets in the match.

“I think our bowlers have had a good amount of success against India. We know each other pretty well after playing them the whole summer [at home]. This is the ground where our bowlers have had success,” said captain Graeme Smith.

South Africa, with four points from three matches, will be keen to post a victory in Saturday’s game to boost their chances of making it to the quarter-finals.

Their hopes suffered a dent last weekend when they failed to chase 172 for victory against England in Chennai.

“Right now, it is about qualifying and having confidence going into the knock-out phase. So tomorrow is obviously an important game for both teams in the terms of confidence,” added Smith.

When asked how they felt being called favourites and then chokers after their six-run loss to England, Smith said: “To be honest, the sanity within the squad is keeping all the outside influences out. Coming into the tournament no one said we were favourites.

“Suddenly you win two games and become favourites, you lose a game and suddenly you’re not favourites anymore. I think having a decent perspective within the group is always important.”

Smith believes his side have the bowling options to keep pressure on a strong Indian batting line-up in clash.

South Africa have successfully experimented with their bowling, opening the attack with a spinner in two of their three matches.

“It [experiment] has been very successful for us. Everything we tried seems to have worked on the bowling front. As a bowling unit, we have been very strong in this tournament so far,” said Smith.

“I think our unpredictability is something that stands us in good stead. Through the past, we have been predictable, but we are a lot more difficult to plan against now.”

South Africa are likely to leave out leg-spinner Imran Tahir who fractured his left thumb against England.

“It is obviously a selection thing. He [Tahir] has bowled this week and come through that quite fine. It’s just a case of whether we need to risk him tomorrow or not. We will decide later,” said Smith. — AFP

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