Saturday, March 24, 2007

Smith predicts fireworks in Proteas-Aussies clash

Basseterre (St Kitts), March 24 (IANS) South Africa captain Graeme Smith is hyping Saturday's marquee Group A clash with Australia at the Warner Park as a 'cracker'.

'Everyone is looking to this game for a period of time now,' Smith said at the pre-match briefing.

'Back home (in South Africa), in Australia and in St Kitts, I'm sure everybody has been excited about the prospects of this game.

'It has the potential to be cracker. Both teams have an awesome of respect for each other; both teams have an awesome amount of talent. The quality of the wicket and the ground just bodes well for hopefully what is going to be a good game,' the Caribbean Media Corp quoted him as saying.

The South Africans were still to finalise their final XI but the Australians have already announced that match-winning all-rounder Andrew Symonds will replace last-match centurion Brad Hodge in their side.

'There are no real queries. The XI we put on the field tomorrow is the XI that we feel confident that will win the game,' Smith said.

'We want to win tomorrow (but) I don't think it would define the World Cup but it's an important game. As a team we are pretty relaxed about things. We take it as it comes.

'There are a couple of phases in the World Cup... this is one of them. There have been a few disappointments in the past but this team is different to those in the past. I have no doubt that the team has the potential to do well,' he said.

Smith said the fact that his top-order batsmen had scored heavily in the first two matches meant that the lower order had gotten the chance to show their mettle.

He said they were aware of the threat posed by new Aussie pacer Shaun Tait, who replaced the injured Brett Lee for the tournament.

'Shaun Tait has the ability to take wickets but he can also go for a few runs. We have respect for him,' the South African skipper said.