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Smith wants to inflict scars

Graeme Smith says any psychological scars inflicted on England during the one-day tri-series will benefit South Africa in the five-match Test series that follows.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2003 18:22 IST

Skipper Graeme Smith says any psychological scars inflicted on England during the one-day tri-series will benefit South Africa in the five-test test series that follows. South Africa began the tournament with a loss to the hosts. But Smith's team soon regained lost ground with an emphatic seven-wicket win over England at Old Trafford to set the trend for the tournament with three back-to-back wins.

"If we can leave some (scars) in the back of their mind for the Test series, it would be great," said Smith looking ahead to Tuesday's match at Edgbaston.

Smith said that, after a nervous start, his young side had begun to relax and absorb pressure in front of big crowds. Smith, at age 22 the second youngest test captain of all time behind India's Nawab of Pataudi Jr., is in charge of a team that is rebuilding after another World Cup disaster. South Africa tumbled out of the recent tournament it hosted after the first round under Shaun Pollock.

"We treat every international as a big game," said Smith. "England is a big nation, and we want to keep the momentum going. Keep them on the back foot.

"It helps our confidence and you start believing you can win games from any situations.

"That's where Australia are good at the moment. They've got a such winning habit, that's what we want to get into. You can go out and win every game. We're not going to slack off. "We got some big games ahead. We don't want to let anyone else in the door. Keep them shut out.

"We realize there will be a lots of ups and downs to come ahead. We want to fight and be hungry to do well."

South Africa has so far outplayed Zimbabwe, is 1-1 with England and has all but secured a place in Saturday's final at Lord's where it's likely to meet the hosts.

South Africa has out-bowled, out-fielded and out-batted its opposition in a timely return to form to stamp its mark as the No. 2 side in world cricket behind Australia.

After Jacques Kallis had scored 107, 125 not out and 82 not out in the first three games, it was the turn of openers Herschelle Gibbs and Smith to hit form and they did so in fine style during a 154-run stand to setup a nine-wicket win over Zimbabwe. Gibbs scored an unbeaten on 93 off 97 balls while Smith made a well accomplished 58.

This followed the continuing improvement with the bowling with Pollock being outstanding. He has been simply unplayable and the bowler-friendly conditions at Old Trafford and Cardiff helped him immensely.

But it has been a frustrating experience too because he has managed to take just two wickets in the 38 overs in four games. After bowling seven overs for five runs against England, Pollock conceded just six runs in a similar spell with the new ball. "It will all turn around," Smith said.

"He's really bowling well. He's setting the tone, and he's leading from the front as the bowling pack. He's got pace and movement, and got the control to go with it. I think it will turn quickly as long as he keep doing the simple things.

"He'll tell you he's feeling good at the moment. If he's feeling good, he must be back to his best. He's pretty confident. Guys are struggling to score runs off him at the moment, and from our point of view, he's bowling pressure early on.

Smith expects Pollock to take wickets against England on Tuesday. It will be South Africa's first return to Edgbaston since the famous World Cup tie against Australia in the semifinal in 1999 when a mixup between Allan Donald and Lance Klusener led to a runout which put the Aussies into the final.

Gibbs, Kallis and vice-captain Mark Boucher are the only survivors of that side, and the opener believes it hasn't left lasting scars on them.

"A lot of people will still remember it- for good and bad memories. It was really a great game of cricket. It was just unfortunate that we didn't get through to the final." Gibbs was a relieved man of his timely return to form as South Africa sets eyes on Lord's where the right hander has not played before.

"The main thing for me was my balance," Gibbs said. "In the first few games my balance has been out a quite a lot. It was a bit better. Still a long, long way to go. I can feel a lot more relieved.

"Every surface you play here is different, which is the biggest adjustment as far as the opening batters are concerned. To get through that initial period it does take a bit of time. "You're the opening batter and you've got to set the tone for the innings. We're finding out that every surface is different that makes it slightly difficult."

First Published: Jul 06, 2003 18:05 IST