Saturday, February 6, 2010


South African captain Graeme Smith declared that they deserve to be the world number one team more than India.
South Africa would reclaim their world number one status that they relinquished to India in December last year if they do not lose the second Test in Kolkata starting on Sunday.

Smith said they deserved the Test numero uno status more than any side as they had won around the world and not in their own backyard only.

"The reason we probably can say we deserve number one ranking more than any one else is we have traveled and won around the world in a short period of time. We have not only played at home and won. We have won in England, in Australia, come here and won a Test in 2008 and now here. Number one team deserves to be number one. We want to earn that and be there for a long time," he said.

He said by winning the first Test in Nagpur his side has taken the first step of scoring a series victory in India which is something missing in South Africa's record books.

"I think especially as a team we have achieved so much. I think as a Test team this is one thing (to win series in India) we wanted to tick off. A win here in this two-match series we have taken the first step. It is a massive goal for all of us (to win the series)," said the right-handed opening batsman.

Smith said his side stuck to their natural game and dished out positive cricket.

"We have been really clinical. It is important to play our style of cricket. We have to adapt but play our style of cricket. I think we did that very well throughout the game and used our bowlers in short spells," said Smith.

"Like I said before we had everything to gain. We know how tough it is to play here and how satisfying it is to get a victory. We got one in 2008. So we had to work just as hard.

"We played positive cricket," Smith said.

"More than anything else the energy the guys showed is great. The mental energy. You need to put in that kind of effort. To bowl a team out like India in two days twice (is great)," he explained.

Smith credited the entire team for the victory while singling out Hashim Amla's superb double century that set up the triumph.

"Hashim's double century was great to watch. At No. 3 he is becoming the glue. (It's) terrific to have him there. We played with three quicks and, with (Paul) Harris chipping in, we adapted. It is a credit to the team," he said.

"Hashim is one of the hardest working guys. He knows his strength is his mental strength. He has got great hands and he scores very quickly. He sticks to his game plan and has provided us a lot of stability. More than his 250 he has been involved in some key partnerships along the way," he said.

Smith also praised his pace spearhead Dale Steyn for the devastating spell of swing bowling, both traditional and reverse and said the cool conditions in the morning helped him a bit.

"I think (it's) a little bit cool here in the morning.

"Dale is a quality swing bowler. He swings the ball at pace.

"Didn't move it a great deal but swung it a little bit. It is a great display of fast bowling and backed it up with a little reverse swing," the South African opener said.

Smith was a delighted man considering the controversial incidents that happened at home before the tour.

"From a personal perspective it has been a really tough two weeks. It is the credit to the maturity the players have shown. It shows how much it means for them to play for South Africa. See guys like Hashim (Amla) and Jacques (Kallis) it means so much to them. It was a great team effort," he said.

Praising left-arm spinner Paul Harris who does his job quietly, Smith said, "I have got used to guys writing off Paul. Over last two years we have traveled to many countries and everyone doesn't talk much about Paul. He knows his role within the team. He allows the other guys, Morne (Morkel), Steyn and Jacques do the role they need to. He picked up some key wickets today, some big names."

About settling down so soon after the changes in the selection panel and the chief coach, Smith praised interim coach Corrie van Zyl.

"Corrie has created a good working environment for the players and as the weeks went on we have settled down and focused more and more on our cricket," Smith said.

"I think more from a team perspective the set-up had been there for the past five years and there were a lot of shifts and changes and everyone was just trying to find their feet.

"It helped there was a lot of honesty around the group and the credit must go to their maturity also," he added.

Smith was not too concerned about the type of wicket that would be prepared for the second Test in Kolkata starting on Sunday and said his players were experienced enough in these conditions to take on whatever is dished out.

"India have more control over the conditions. Guys need a few days rest, mental energy more than anything else. This has taken a lot out of the guys. There is enough in the group now and we have beaten India enough number of times. I don't think anything will surprise us going into Kolkata," he said.

Asked about the need to change ball in India before a new ball was due, Smith said because of the abrasive surfaces on which the matches are played the balls become worn out fast.

"The wickets are abrasive in India. We changed the ball when the seam slit open. I think it is going to happen on such wickets where it is very abrasive. The outfield is pretty hard and firm. The ball is getting a good work-out 50 to 60 overs.

"But we really worked hard on getting reverse swing on the ball something that we think is going to be a key factor.

"The ball change came at a good time just after tea and Dale made good use of it," he pointed out.

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