By Kuldip Lal
Dhaka: Mar 19, 2011
South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his team was on the right track to go all the way in the World Cup after an impressive demolition of Bangladesh on Saturday.
"I am very hopeful about winning the next three matches, that's what we have to do," said Smith as South Africa warmed up for the quarter-finals by topping Group B with five wins in six matches.
"All the teams going to the knock-out phase want to win the World Cup. We have so far met each challenge because each game we played had different degrees of pressure."
Fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe grabbed 3-14 on his World Cup debut as the Proteas won their last league match by 206 runs at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium here. Jacques Kallis made 69 and Faf du Plessis hit a run-a-ball 52 to lift South Africa to 284-8 after Smith won the toss and elected to take first strike on a slow, sluggish wicket.
Bangladesh, needing a win to qualify for the quarter-finals, were shot out for 78 in reply after Tsotsobe ripped through the top order and left-arm spinner Robin Peterson claimed 4-12 at the end. Skipper Shakib Al Hasan made 30 but none of the other 10 batsmen reached double figures as Bangladesh almost matched their lowest one-day total of 58 against the West Indies earlier in the tournament.
Smith was delighted that Tsotsobe, who was given a chance only because pace spearheads Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were rested ahead of the bigger matches, seized the opportunity in style.
"It is always difficult to leave him out," the captain said. "The guys who came in today played so well. The selection is based on the team we play and the pitch we play on. The whole squad is together and if we stand with the trophy at the end of the day, it is all of us being part of something special."
Smith (45) and Hashim Amla (51) put on 98 for the first wicket by the 21st over, before Kallis and du Plessis added 82 for the fourth. That laid the platform for a late assault which saw the lower order batsmen smash 92 runs in the last 10 overs.
"I thought 250 would have been a good total on this surface and with wickets in hand in the powerplay, we managed to get better," said Smith.
Smith hoped South Africa would play its quarter-final at the same venue, which will host two knock-out matches next Wednesday and Friday. The line-up will be finalised after the last round of league matches on Sunday with the proviso that India and Sri Lanka, the two host nations who have qualified, will play at home.
"Hopefully our match will be here in Dhaka, it looks like we are luckier here," Smith said of the venue where South Africa have won their last three one-day internationals.
"But we will prepare for it the same way we have prepared for each game we have played so far."
Smith said Bangladesh needed to be consistent if they were to successfully compete with the best in world cricket. "Bangladesh are a bit unpredictable at the moment with their results," he said. "I think the challenge for Bangladesh cricket is to play consistently. They need to find ways to create that consistency."