Smith hails Proteas victory
South Africa captain Graeme Smith declared himself satisfied with a decent work-out for his side after they secured victory by one run against New Zealand at Lord’s.
The Proteas were put into bat and restricted to 128 for seven by a New Zealand outfit looking particularly sharp in the field.
But the Black Caps proved no better with the bat, coming up just short after needing 15 going into the final over as a dour encounter briefly came to life at the climax.
South Africa will face England in the Super Eights on Thursday and Smith feels his side are in good shape to take on the hosts.
“When you look at the bigger picture it was fantastic for us to have a high-pressure game, especially from a bowling perspective and to defend a total like ours under pressure,” said Smith.
“Getting our skills right for last-ball overs under pressure was great, and I thought we bowled really well. There are a lot of positives to take from this game.”
Smith gave his side a solid start with 33, but admitted they underperformed with the bat in a surprisingly low-scoring affair under the lights.
He said: “We had a good platform at 47 for nought in the sixth but maybe lost our way and got a bit tense, but it’s probably a good thing and a few of us learned a few important lessons before we go into the Super Eights.
“I really believe we have got the batting to play well in all those situations, we just got it wrong today.”
Brendon McCullum, standing in as captain with Daniel Vettori once again sidelined by a shoulder problem, led the way for New Zealand with 57 but could not see them home.
“Any time you don’t come out with a win you are disappointed,” said McCullum.
“I thought we bowled and fielded well but our batting was always struggling for momentum right through the innings.
“We never had that big over, and you need one or two big overs in a Twenty20 game. So it’s frustrating from that point of view but we’ll look at the positives and not dwell too much on the negatives.”
Ross Taylor added to New Zealand’s seemingly never-ending injury worries when he pulled up feeling his hamstring, but McCullum opted to keep him out in the middle with a runner.
McCullum said: “That was my decision. A guy like him, even at 80%, is capable of hitting the ball out of the park and one or two over the rope would have made the difference in that game.”
Vettori and batsman Jesse Ryder, who missed out with a groin injury, could again be struggling to face Ireland on Thursday.