SA look to asses fitness in warm-up tie against Zimbabwe

Chennai, Feb 11 (PTI) One of the title favourites, SouthAfrica start their World Cup sojourn with a warm-up matchagainst Zimbabwe here tomorrow, a match which is expectedto help both teams assess their fitness and acclimatise to theconditions ahead of the big one.

High on confidence after their ODI series win over Indialast month, South Africa will look to gain vital matchpractice in the day-night encounter at the refurbished M AChidambaram Stadium here.

The Greame Smith-led Proteas, after a hard-fought Testand ODI series against India at home, have had two days ofnets since their arrival here on Wednesday.

Smith had already indicated that the team''s sole aim thistime around, is to bag the coveted trophy that has not onlyeluded them so far but also earned them the tag of chokers.

Having lost three semifinals and a quarterfinal despitebeing the title contenders in their past five World Cupappearances, South Africans would like to make it a memorableevent for the 30-year old Smith, on his last ODI assignment asthe skipper.

South Africa are in Group B with Bangladesh, England,India, West Indies, Ireland and the Netherlands. They areslated to play another warm-up tie against Australia onFebruary 15, nine days before opening their World Cup campaignagainst the West Indies on February 24.

Despite leading a team bulk of which consists of WorldCup first-timers, Smith sounded confident and said his wardsare best prepared. A major worry, of course, will be thefitness of veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who isrecovering from a rib injury he suffered during the seriesagainst India. Smith has indicated that Kallis would not bowltomorrow.

Besides Smith and Kallis, AB de Villiers and RobinPetersen are the other two survivors from the last edition ofthe tournament in the West Indies.

Realising the importance of slow bowlers onsub-continental wickets, South Africa have plenty of optionsin their spin attack, described by Smith as the most varied.

Pakistan-born uncapped leg-spinner Imran Tahir is tippedto be the secret weapon for the Proteas who also have twoother frontline spinners Johan Botha and Peterson besidespart-timers. The pace attack would be spearheaded by DaleSteyn.

Morne van Wyk, with his experience, would bring morestrength to the batting line-up that boasts of the likes ofthe in-form Hashim Amla, who has consistently done wellagainst India, AB de Villiers and J P Duminy. .

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