India in SA

SA v India down to the wire

2011-01-22 22:12
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)

Centurion - Proteas captain Graeme Smith said South Africa and India were evenly matched and he could not predict who would win the five-match one-day international series, level at 2-2 with one game to play at SuperSport Park on Sunday.

"No one holds the advantage," Smith said after his team fought their way back into the series in Port Elizabeth on Friday night.

South Africa made 265/7 to win the fourth ODI by 48 runs on the Duckworth Lewis method after the game was rained off and India were caught short at 142/6 after facing 32.5 overs.

"It’s just about who performs better on the day. I'd love to say we’ll win it but we’ve got to be realistic and just keep positive about the way we want to play," the skipper said.

"Our focus has been about performing well and getting ourselves back into the series.

"It’s about going out there and not having one guy feel he needs to perform brilliantly to win us the match, but rather all of us just performing our roles and trusting ourselves and each other to do that."

The squads for next month's Cricket World Cup have all been selected, so some of the tension has gone out of the mix and allowed the hosts to experiment ahead of the global showpiece in the subcontinent.

"You don't often see a South African team with only three seamers," Smith said after fielding two spinners, Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, in the fourth ODI.

"It was something fresh and that worked for us.

"The wickets have been bowler friendly, which you can see by the totals posted and the difficulty in playing strokes. You haven’t been able to play with freedom.

"So it's nice to see our spinners picking up wickets and they're going to play an important role at the World Cup."

Smith said although they were aware of the different conditions in the subcontinent, this series had nonetheless been an important one for his team to gain experience and find new talent.

"We've learned some important lessons during this series and become more street-smart," said the skipper.

"There is a lot of variety in the side now which gives up more options.

"Role definition is absolutely key as the players need to know where they stand, but we've got more variety and we can pick a different team on any given day and play well.

"That's what we’re looking for -- to keep attacking and keep learning and to play positive cricket."

India's captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, echoed Smith's sentiments and said there was little to choose from between the two teams.

"You have two of the best teams in the world competing here, so we'll see what happens on Sunday," he said.

The top-order batsmen were a concern for Dhoni as only Virat Kohli, who made 54 in Durban and was unbeaten on 87 in Port Elizabeth, had put in a solid performance.

"Our batsmen have not really clicked. It's a bit of a worry as in India (during the World Cup) there will be high-scoring games."

Dhoni said he hoped openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, as well as Gautam Gambhir, would have recovered in time to take part in the World Cup.

"It has, however, been a good experience for our youngsters in the side and our part-time bowlers have also performed consistently well for us.

"That’s always a good thing going into the World Cup.

"It (the last match of the series) is a must-win game for both teams and may the best team win."

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