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Aussies under pressure, says Smith by Chris Burnes

Australia will be a touring team under pressure when they arrive in South Africa on Monday, according to South African captain Graeme Smith.

cricket Updated: Feb 16, 2009 05:00 IST

Australia will be a touring team under pressure when they arrive in South Africa on Monday, according to South African captain Graeme Smith.

Australia will play three Test matches, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals on their two-month tour.

South Africa will be favourites after winning both the Test and one- day series in Australia recently.

It is a position with which the host nation will be comfortable, Smith said in the South African Sunday Times, although he warned that he expected an Australian backlash.

"It's going to be an unusual place to be for a South African team," said Smith.

"It's a great feeling and a reward for all the sacrifices everyone has made. But we know that Australians are very competitive people and they don't like to be on the back foot. The only way we can keep them there is by playing better cricket again."

The side that Ricky Ponting will lead is one of the most inexperienced Australian touring parties in recent history and Smith said they would lack the confidence that previous sides had on the second leg of the back-to-back tours that have been the norm for South Africa-Australia contests.

"On previous tours they have come here with confidence having had the foot on us right through the summer there and they've just carried it on. Now, even their experienced guys will come here in a different frame of mind, while the younger players are coming here for the first time."

Smith said the Australians faced several selection issues while South Africa had already announced they would field the same starting eleven, with the addition of left-arm pace bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe, that won the first two Tests in Australia before losing the third game.

"They're a touring team under pressure and it's never easy," he said. "If we can play well in the first Test maybe we can open up a few cracks."

One good omen for the Australians is that they will travel to the small university town of Potchefstroom, an hour's drive west of Johannesburg, immediately after their arrival.

With good training facilities and no big-city distractions, Potchefstroom was chosen by Australia as their pre-tournament base before the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. They went on to lift the title without losing a match.

After three days of training, the Australians will open the tour with a three-day match against South Africa A in Potchefstroom Friday before moving back to Johannesburg for the first Test starting February 26.


February 20-22: South Africa A, Potchefstroom

Feb 26-March 2: First Test, Johannesburg

March 6-10: Second Test, Durban

March 19-23: Third Test, Cape Town

March 27: First Twenty20 International, Johannesburg

March 29: Second Twenty20 International, Centurion

April 3: First MTN One-Day International, Durban

April 5: Second One-Day International, Centurion

April 9: Third One-Day International, Cape Town

April 13: Fourth One-Day International, Port Elizabeth

April 17: Fifth One-Day International, Johannesburg

First Published: Feb 16, 2009 04:57 IST