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Wake-up call for rusty South Africa

Durban: Embarrassed hosts South Africa said they were rusty and needed practice after slumping to a shock defeat against Western Province in a World Cup warm-up match Saturday in Cape Town.

South Africa crashed to 69 for six before being dismissed for 155 en route to a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of a side captained by World Cup discard Graeme Smith.

The pitch at the Bellville Cricket Club was erratic, but the captain Shaun Pollock refused to blame the surface for the defeat. “The guys who got out early said it wasn’t too bad,” he said. “The odd one bounced and the odd one held up.”

Pollock said his men had played poorly. “It wasn’t very good at all. Hopefully it’s the sort of performance we have got out of our system.”

Coach Eric Simons tried to gloss over the disaster, which came a week before South Africa meet the West Indies in Cape Town in the opening match of the World Cup.

“I said during the week that there was definitely some rust in the nets and we needed time in the middle. It’s not a bad thing to happen in some ways. If we’re going to have this sort of thing it’s the right time to have it.”

South Africa will have an opportunity to avenge their defeat when the teams meet again in Cape Town on Thursday.

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