South Africa, Australia set to rekindle rivalry | cricket | Hindustan Times
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South Africa, Australia set to rekindle rivalry

As South Africa skipper Graeme Smith and his teammates walked back after training at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Monday evening, they would have noticed the groundsmen vigorously shaving off grass from the pitch.

cricket Updated: Feb 15, 2011 12:02 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

As South Africa skipper Graeme Smith and his teammates walked back after training at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Monday evening, they would have noticed the groundsmen vigorously shaving off grass from the pitch.

His team had already been welcomed to the sub-continent's slow pitches, while brushing aside Zimbabwe in the first warm-up tie in Chennai two days ago.

Hoping to finally lead South Africa to a World Cup win after repeatedly stumbling in the past, he knows much heat will be generated around the final warm-up against Australia, thanks to the rivalry.

Embattled Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting knows he will have to regain lost ground after his batsmen came unstuck against Indian spinners in Sunday's defeat on a turning Chinnaswamy stadium pitch. Although the adjacent pitch will host Tuesday's game, the captains would still be wary.

Australia have time and again rattled South Africa at the World Cup that has added substance to the chokers tag of the Proteas. But their fierce rivalry has set new ODI standards. The teams are in different groups but the result will be useful to refer to if they clash in the knockout.

South Africa won the series 3-1 at home in April 2009 when the two teams last met, but coach Corrie Van Zyl warned the players to focus on ironing out their flaws and not be distracted.

"Everybody wants to win these games, you never play not to win," he said, reminding everyone that both teams have undergone changes.

"It's such a different side now that you don't even think about those things in the past. It's just going to put (pressure). It's unnecessary to actually go there (raise past rivalry).

South Africa left-arm paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who sprained his knee against Zimbabwe, bowled in the nets. The coach, however, said all-rounder Jacques Kallis will be allowed to fully recover from his rib injury before he is asked to bowl again.