After clearing Afghan hurdle India aim to climb South African peak

Skipper Dhoni says men in blue will have to be at their best

After clearing Afghan hurdle India aim to climb South African peak

Indian captain MS Dhoni (R) and Yuvraj Singh during the match against Afghanistan on Saturday. AFP

Back-to-back matches are never easy but India can go into their second match without the pressure of a must-win situation. With the win over Afghanistan ensuring their qualification to the next stage.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men, for a change, can take on the might of South Africa with a free mind. For South Africa, playing India first can be both advantageous and disadvantageous depending upon which way the result goes.

A win against India will give them a chance to top the group while a defeat means there can’t be too many slip-ups against  Afghanistan.

 The Indian captain, though, warned against complacency as he thought the competition will only get stiffer from now on.

“With today’s win, we have qualified for the second round. That is when we need to play at our best because each of the teams has the potential to win the title,” he remarked.

Graeme Smith, however, refused to look beyond Sunday’s match. “We’ve had a good week’s preparation, pretty decent warm-up games and we can still improve a hell of a lot, which is encouraging. We just want to take it step by step. It’s that sort of tournament,” he said. Smith also pointed out that his team had its strategies well laid out for the Indians.

“We’ve got some really good thoughts about playing India. We’ve had success (against India) in the last tournament and this tournament generally, we’ve had lots of success without going all the way,” he said.

The last time India-South Africa clash took place in Nottingham in the 2009 World T20 and latter emerged the winners on a sluggish pitch that took more spin than anticipated; offie Johan Botha and left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe comfortably out-bowling their Indian counterparts.

The win is still fresh in Smith’s mind and given the slow nature of the pitches here, he is not ruling out fielding two slow bowlers.

A firm believer in the present, Dhoni wasn’t too interested in the past.

“Sometimes people force you to think about these things, but it doesn’t really work that way,” said Dhoni.

“If you look at it like that, staying in the past, we should have never won the T20 World Cup in 2007 after we just lost the 50-over World Cup,” he shot back.

But at the same breath he was weary of the South African might.

“Obviously, they are a good side, they have some really talented players. But we will be at our best when we face them,” the wicketkeeper batsman from Jharkhand said.

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