The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SA confident
- Tri-series tie vs England

London: South Africa captain Graeme Smith believes his side should be far too strong for England when the sides meet in the second match of a triangular series at The Oval Saturday.

“We’re well prepared as a team and as individuals and if we play to our potential tomorrow we can really dominate,” he said. “We’ve got the players to do that and we’ve got the team to do that if we relax and play our natural game.”

South Africa were knocked out in the first round at the World Cup earlier this year but are still ranked the second best one-day side in the game behind world champions Australia.England, fresh from beating Pakistan 2-1 in a three-match home series, slumped to a surprise defeat to lowly Zimbabwe Thursday in the first game of the meet.

Smith said the result had not affected South Africa’s preparations but added the desire to atone for their World Cup debacle would make his side hard to beat. “Public expectation (in South Africa) after what happened at the World Cup is really high — myself and the team realise that we owe the public a lot,” Smith said at a media conference at The Oval Friday.

Immediately after Saturday’s match, South Africa travel to Canterbury to play Zimbabwe Sunday. “To be honest we’re not very happy about it,” Smith added. “It’s not ideal to play a game and then travel two hours and play the next day. But as a team we’ve put that to one side and we know we’ve got to go out there and win two games..”

Smith is the youngest man to have captained South Africa, and he agreed that his first game against England would be the first serious Test of his leadership. “Definitely. We played against India and Bangladesh in a one-day series but tomorrow is a big test, not only for me but for the team. We’ve played some really decent cricket on tour so far and it’s up to us now to go and put it together at international level.

“There’s pressure on every player and there’s more pressure on the captain to make decisions. You’ve got to find your own ways of dealing with it. I don’t know yet what mine will be, but I’m pretty relaxed.”

Meanwhile, moving down the order may be an option for Michael Vaughan should he be unable to get rid of the poor batting form which has hampered him since he took on the captaincy of England’s one-day side.

The Yorkshire batsman has struggled to repeat his incredible winter form against Australia since the start of this season and is yet to reach 30 for England this summer after two Tests and four one-day Internationals. Vaughan insists there is nothing wrong with his form and is confident of making a major contribution with the bat sooner rather than later. (Reuters, AFP)

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