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Smith wants to focus on beating Pak

Graeme Smith said he will let elite Pakistani security force commandos take care of security while he tries to keep his squad's attention on winning.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2003 00:35 IST

Against a backdrop of recent bombings, South Africa's cricket captain said Tuesday he will let elite Pakistani security force commandos take care of security while he tries to keep his squad's attention on winning.

"From our first practice today, we are going to focus on cricket and how we beat Pakistan," Smith told a news conference ahead of five one-day internationals and two test matches. "The rest of the stuff will take care of itself because there are people to look after that off the field."

South African cricket authorities initially canceled the trip following a bombing in the port city of Karachi on Sept. 19. But the tour was later rescheduled, with Karachi and Peshawar scrapped from the itinerary due to security concerns.

Another bomb exploded in a bus in Karachi last Friday, injuring several people. "I am not afraid of Pakistanis, but I am afraid of the bombs," Smith said.

He felt sorry for the people of Karachi and Peshawar, but said player security should always be given top priority. "I think that the main thing is that Pakistan is playing cricket," he said.

He denied his players came under pressure to make the tour, saying the United Cricket Board of South Africa made the decision based on security.

"The UCB sat with us," he said. "They explained everything to us and we are aware of everything that has gone on. We are the first big nation in a long time (to visit Pakistan). We are not going to leave here disappointed."

Smith, who took over the captaincy from Shaun Pollock after the World Cup in February-March, said he was not surprised to see a dozen commandos at Lahore's airport cordoning off the arrival terminal when the team landed in the wee hours.

"We were well-prepared, so it didn't come as a huge surprise. It didn't bother us too much," Smith said.

South Africa starts its month-long tour with a one-day warm-up against City Nazim XI Wednesday before taking on Pakistan in the first one-day international Friday.

South African team: Graeme Smith (captain), Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Neil McKenzie, Jacques Rudolph, Robin Peterson, Andrew Hall, Alan Dawson, Makhaya Ntini, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Boeta Dippenaar, Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Adams. Eric Simons (coach), Cassim Docrat (manager).

First Published: Sep 30, 2003 18:35 IST