We are relieved of chokers' tag: Smith
With his side winning the battle of nerves in a nail-biting World Cup Group B match against India here, South African captain Graeme Smith on Saturday expressed happiness that for once they were able to shed the chokers' tag.cricket Updated: Mar 13, 2011 01:00 IST
With his side winning the battle of nerves in a nail-biting World Cup Group B match against India here, South African captain Graeme Smith on Saturday expressed happiness that for once they were able to shed the chokers' tag.
He praised his bowlers for ensuring a comeback in the final overs of the Indian innings by claiming nine wickets for just 29 runs and termed it as the "turning point" of their three-wicket victory over.
"For once we are relieved of the chokers' tag. I am happy that our guys challenged the perception. It was a fantastic comeback on the fifth anniversary of our successful 434 run-chase (against Australia in 2006)," an elated Smith told reporters at the post-match press conference.
"After being taken to the cleaners in the first 15 overs by Sachin and Viru, we showed a lot of intensity and composure to come back strongly. It was good to get Sachin and Gambhir out during the Powerplay," he said.
Man of the match Dale Steyn was candid in his admission that he did not expect that their side will be able to take nine wickets in nine overs for just 29 runs.
"At one stage, we were staring down the barrel. Once you look up to the scoreboard you don't feel good seeing the projected score being flashed. But we came back well," said Steyn, who took five for 50.
Smith refused to comment on whether the pressure got better of the Indians.
"India will always be a difficult team to beat in the sub-continent with that kind of crowd support. It is there to be seen how they play in the knock-out stages of the tournament," he said.
Smith said he called for the first referral only to get his boys regroup as it was a nervy situation with 40,000 people behind the home team.
"The noise during the first 15 overs was really making things difficult for us. Basically, I took a referral to call my players and told them to remain calm as I felt that we can string in some quiet overs and make up for the 30-40 extra runs that we have given away. Ultimately, we achieved our target by miles," he said.
He said chasing 297 on the Jamtha track was not an easy job but his batsmen did well at the end.
"The guys batted exceptionally well. I always knew that the test won't be as tough as the one in Chennai. It was good that Robbie (Robin Peterson) did well for us."
The South African captain was all praise for comeback man Johan Botha who had to sit out of earlier matches because the team management played leggie Imran Tahir.
"I can only find positives as far as Botha is concerned. It's not always easy to be out of side after being a regular member. He bowled exceptionally well when Indian batsmen were taking us to cleaners. Also his batting in the end helped us."