Graeme Smith

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Blog Posts by Graeme Smith

  • Raina took the game away from us

    I have to admit this was not the best of ways to kick off our ICC World Twenty20 campaign. The loss to India on Sunday was due to a combination of things. Giving away 75 runs in the last five overs was 20-odd runs too many, especially on a wicket on which 160 was a par score.

     

    Letting India get to 180-plus made it hard for us on a difficult track. Still, I feel Jacques and I left too much for the guys coming in to do and we have to take responsibility for that. We both made reasonable scores but should have tried to rev up the run-rate a little earlier.

     

    The other thing that proved costly for us was Raina getting a life after being caught off a no-ball on five. We did start well with the ball but once Raina got hold of us at the back end and exploited our lack of accuracy the game got away from us.

     

    I had said before the game that it was the little things that matter and that no-ball turned the game in India's favour. He batted very well from then on and was a deserved man of the

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  • SA are seen as one of the favourites

    The ICC Champions Trophy is our first competition after a long, and well-deserved break, from international cricket. The boys are rested, refreshed, in-form and raring to go especially if our 200-run win over the West Indies in a warm-up the other day is anything to go by.

     

    Many of the teams have already played a few internationals and India and Australia will be coming into the tournament with wins under their belts, and so will be feeling very confident.

     

    I know South Africa are seen as one of the favourites, but that is not something we will be focusing on. We do have some things in our favour though - we are going in as the top team in both ODIs and Tests and the fact that we are familiar with the conditions may give us a slight edge over the others.

     

    We play our first match against Sri Lanka, who have not had a good run recently. So that will perhaps be another thing going for us as teams from the sub-continent are not really comfortable with South African conditions. What

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  • Consistency has been the key

    I know tomorrow's match against India is purely academic but still it would be great to finish the Super Eight stage unbeaten and take that momentum into the semi-finals. We will be resting Jacques Kallis tomorrow as he has a slight niggle in the back. That shouldn't be a problem, however, as we have been playing well and all we have to do is keep playing to the level we have been throughout the tournament. If we do so to our potential and with the same intensity then the other team will have to raise their game even higher to beat us.

     

    India has a lot of wonderful talent, and I think one of their challenges will be to bring all this talent together and make it work for them. Another challenge for them is when they are playing away: at home, they are very strong, but they are not so consistent outside India. Not having Sehwag around may have hurt them a little, but they came into the Super Eight without really being tested. No pressure at the group stage could have caused them to lose

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  • We are a tough team to beat

    Yesterday's match against New Zealand was not easy but we bowled well and showed that we can do well under pressure. We have a lot of talent and skill in the side, but any team can beat any one on their day and the only way to go about things is to enjoy the cricket and play your natural game.

     

    Tomorrow, we face England in the first of our Super Eight matches. We know the crowd will be behind them, so we are looking forward to what could turn out to be an exciting and intense match. We will just have to play better and take early wickets to give ourselves the best chance to get to the semi-finals. England are under a lot of pressure what with the expectations of their fans. The top three have batted pretty well, especially Kevin Pietersen, as we saw against Pakistan.

     

    Ravi Bopara, too, has had a good couple of weeks, and has done his job as a pinch hitter by giving his side good starts. As I said before, we will need to bowl well in the first overs and create pressure to give

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  • We really have our backs against the wall now

    We really have our backs against the wall now, but maybe that's a good thing going into our final league match, against Kolkata Knight Riders, tomorrow. We know we have to beat them to give ourselves a better chance of making it to the semi-finals, and we have shown in the past that we thrive under pressure.

     

    We cannot, however, afford to play like we did against the Delhi Daredevils the other night. Ab de Villiers played a really clever knock, adequately backed up by Dilshan - dropping these two key players also did not help our cause - and then Delhi bowled well for nearly 17-18 overs. We should really have tried to defend 130-135 because 150 was always going to be tough to chase. Quiney and I were unlucky in our chase, and to add to that it was unbelievably cold that night - I was freezing my legs off out there!

     

    Munaf played a handy innings to bring us close to within 14 runs of the target, and that will go a long way if we need to take the net run rate into account. We are

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  • The key for us is to be consistent

    We probably should not have won that match against Mumbai on Thursday night, but Munaf was just brilliant! It was he who won us the game, and once we got the important wicket of Nayar — who was playing really well — in the earlier over, Mumbai went into a panic while Munaf handled the pressure beautifully. The win has definitely given us the shot in the arm we need going into the next couple of matches, especially against Delhi Daredevils, whom we play tomorrow.

     

    Warnie's decision to play also boosted our confidence. Despite his injury, he did not want to sit out against Mumbai - who probably did not expect him to take the field - knowing what an important match it was for us. He bowled well, and even got Sachin's wicket. His decision worked well, too, for the young Indians in the side, as that gave them confidence all-round. 

     

    I was really surprised by Mumbai's decision to bring Sanath down the order. He is a great player upfront and had he opened, he may have made all the

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  • We have to control our destiny from here

    As we all know by now, Warnie is down with a hamstring. He didn't train on Wednesday, but has not said whether he will be playing or not: perhaps he'll take that call on Thursday, before we take on the Mumbai Indians.

     

    It goes without saying that we need a win after two losses in a row, and it is crucial that we get one against Mumbai. All of us need to step up and play better than we did against Deccan on Monday. We have put ourselves under pressure now, and a win would give just the boost we need to take into the rest of our outings and push for a semi-final place. We did not finish well against Deccan, and conceded 70-odd runs in the last six overs. We did not start well either and lost the top order quickly and some poor decision-making did not help.

     

    Despite Mumbai coming off two wins, we are both in the same must-win situation. This can be said of every team at this stage of the competition, but it will be up to us to perform better. We have to control our destiny from here on

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  • We cannot afford to be complacent

    A score of 160 or so against Chennai Super Kings yesterday would have been ideal, but 140 was a good total to defend taking into account the way the pitch was playing: square and slow. Chennai are the team in form and Hayden and Badrinath did very well to help take them home, but 15 runs or so more would have put their batsmen under a bit more pressure. 

     

    We meet the Deccan Chargers again tomorrow, and they like us have been having a bit of a roller-coaster tournament. We are both coming off losses: they went down to Punjab later yesterday. We both have five wins and four losses each and even though we beat them the last time we met, we cannot afford to be complacent. In fact, it is a big game for both of us as we will be looking to consolidate our position and push for a place in the semi-finals. 

     

    We will be playing at Kimberley again, and the pitch may be even slower than it was yesterday. How we bowl will be crucial, and we will be looking to restrict them to as small a total as

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  • We are moving closer to the final stretch of the tournament

    Another victory and a comfortable one at that, this time over the Bangalore Royal Challengers. We were very happy to get the better of them, more so because we lost to them earlier in the tournament. We are feeling very confident and hopefully it will stay that way, especially tomorrow when we come up against Chennai Super Kings, to whom we lost in the first round.

     

    Beating Bangalore the way we did was a great boost for us. Amit Singh was excellent and it was he and Ravindra Jadeja who really set up the excellent win over the resurgent Bangalore side by not giving any of their batsmen a chance to settle down. Then Naman Ojha and Yusuf Pathan carried on the good work to take us to, what in the end, was an easy win.

     

    Tomorrow we play Chennai Super Kings at Kimberley, a ground at which neither of us have played yet this IPL. Like us, they started off a bit bumpily, but have been steady over the past few games. Yesterday they had a bit of a scrappy win over Kings XI Punjab, but their

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  • Nothing can stop us from going all the way

    Yesterday's win against Kings XI Punjab was a very positive one for us, especially on the batting front, and it felt great to be the first team to break the 200 barrier in IPL II. It was a good toss to lose since it was a very good wicket to bat on and I had a good partnership with Naman Ojha. We started off well, got stuck into it and went with the momentum to finish off well. In fact, it was a great effort by everybody.

     

    We play in Pretoria tomorrow and face a resurgent Bangalore side. We did not play well against them in the first match. After that win, they had a string of losses but after pulling off three wins in a row, their confidence will be very high - especially after their last game, a convincing win against Mumbai.

     

    Kevin Pietersen left them with a win, and Anil Kumble has taken up from where he left off. Anil is a wonderful player and person, plays with good spirit and is a great competitor. It is his personality that is helping them gell and get their combination

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