The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Team playing some of its best cricket: Smith

Cardiff: South African captain Graeme Smith said his side were starting to relax and play some of their best cricket after a nine-wicket thrashing of Zimbabwe in their one-day tri-series match on Saturday.

South Africa were well beaten by England at The Oval a week ago in their first match of the series, but have since won three games on the trot to all but guarantee themselves a place in the final at Lord’s next Saturday.

“I think that we’ve relaxed,” Smith said. “Against England at The Oval we were really nervous in both batting and bowling departments and we really didn’t play to our potential.

“We’ve said as a side that we’re unbelievable in the nets, but we’ve just got to start believing in ourselves out in the middle. I think you can see by the way the guys are playing that they are doing just that.

“But we’ve still got a long way to go in this series. You can win every game and still lose the final so we’ve really got to be up for what lies ahead for us. We can’t afford to slack off. We’ve got to keep building and become a ruthless team that wins a lot more than it loses.”

After beating Zimbabwe with a bonus point South Africa now head the table on 17 points, with England on 10 and Zimbabwe nine. It would take a highly improbable series of events for South Africa to be denied a place in the final, but it is not an equation Smith is trying to work out.

“I stay away from the mathematics side of the game,” he said. “But all the guys are keen to keep the momentum up and win the majority of our games on this tour. We’ve got some big games ahead and we don’t want to let anyone else in the door — we want to keep them shut out,” said Smith.

South Africa restricted Zimbabwe to a mediocre 174 in Saturday’s match and raced to the target with nine wickets and more than 15 overs to spare.

The skipper himself was in good nick and added 154 for the firt wicket with He4rschelle Gibbs. Gibbs, however, stole the show with a rapid 93, to signal his return to form after a series of disappointing outings.

Apart from the form of Gibbs, what must make Smith much more confident is the great touch of Jacques Kallis.

The big allrounder has already cracked two hundreds and an unbeaten 82 in the series so far. (Reuters)

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