'Clinical' South Africa please Smith
Graeme Smith believes South Africa’s dramatic bowling improvement was key to their five-wicket ICC Champions Trophy victory over New Zealand.
The Proteas captain showed plenty of faith in his attack – they went for more than 300 in their opening loss to Sri Lanka – and received just reward with their opponents dismissed for a mediocre 214 at Supersport Park.
Man of the match Wayne Parnell claimed career-best figures of 5-57 and was given good support from Dale Steyn (2-32) and Roelof van der Merwe (2-35) as the Black Caps were bundled out in 47.5 overs.
Two days ago Smith opted to insert the opposition and he again did that today to much better effect, which left him a satisfied man.
He said: “Today was more of a level that we expect of each other and that we’ve got used to playing at. I think the bowlers today had the first go at it again and they really set the example beautifully.
“Wayne and Dale up front bowled with the intensity we’ve been looking for. They hit the right areas and they created a lot of pressure.
“I think that’s a credit to them the way they have bounced back and a credit to everybody that followed. It was a good clinical performance today and something that we have got used to at this level.”
Only Ross Taylor, who made 72, managed to trouble South Africa and, despite the hosts also losing wickets sporadically, AB de Villiers eventually led them home with an unbeaten 70.
Smith continued: “I think the first prize is always to win the game. We knew the wicket was a touch slower today, not like the other night where it was free strokeplay. You had to work a little bit harder today.
“I guess it was about getting yourself to a point where you could just have a good go at it – 40 overs or 41 overs it could be over.
"We lost wickets as we started getting partnerships going to really have a good go at it, but I’m happy with the run-chase.”
Opposite number Daniel Vettori felt that his side were let down by his team's batting, as they failed to kick on despite reaching 163 for three with more than 10 overs remaining.
He said: “We always thought that if we could put 250 on the board then that would be a challenging score.
“We were on our way to that and then we just fell over just before that last powerplay. Grant (Elliot) and Ross were doing it quite nicely; they got on top of their spinners and they were about to take the powerplay and then we lost Grant.
“That probably just triggered a loss in momentum and the reason we only ended up with about 220.
“Crucial moments like that usually determine a one-day international and unfortunately it went South Africa’s way today.”