New Delhi, Feb 24 (PTI) South African captain GraemeSmith today said that selecting three specialist spinners inthe team for their World Cup opening match against West Indieswas a conscious decision and the strategy paid dividends.
Smith said it was always a good feeling when all thestrategies work for the team and he was particularly pleasedwith the convincing seven-wicket win against the West Indies.
"All the strategies worked for us today and it''s been areally good day. There could be days when things don''t workout your way and you ask why it was done," Smith told apost-match press conference where he lavished praise oncenturion AB de Villiers.The dashing de Villiers scored an unbeaten 107 for theSouth Africans while chasing 223 for victory and Smithshowered praise on the batsman who has become a vital cog inhis team.
"It was a great knock by AB (de Villiers). He is one ofour key batsmen and has always shouldered the responsibility.
His ODI cricket has been excellent," he pointed out.
Asked why he opted to open the bowling attack withspinner Johan Botha, Smith said, "It was mainly because therewere two left handers upfront and I thought a spinner couldslow down the pace. Sometimes you try something new and itworks. Today most of the things worked for us."
On debutant leg-spinner Imran Tahir, the South Africancaptain said, "He really bowled well. We used him in shortspells and he responded superbly. Every time he came back, hemade an impact."
"West Indies were batting well but we really managed tocreate pressure in the middle overs. I think that wascrucial," said Smith.
On the Kotla pitch, Smith said "the ground staff havemade a hell of an effort. It was a fair game and I think thepitch was good."
Asked what he told AB de Villiers when he came in to batwith South Africa in a precarious position, Smith said, "Ijust told him that we have to hang around and build apartnership. But he came and took the game away from them."
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy said failure to buildpartnerships cost them the match.
"Many of our batsmen got the starts but they could nottranslate that into big knocks. That really cost us. We werelooking at a score of 270 or so but managed just 222," hesaid.Sammy also said the all-rounders in the team like KieronPollard and himself did not perform upto expectations.
On whether he was surprised by the South African strategyof picking three spinners against them, Sammy said, "Theconditions probably dictated their decision. The conditions inthe sub-continent help the spinners and they will have a bigrole to play in the World Cup."
He said that the team lost too many wickets in the laterstages of the innings and that prevented them from putting upa big total on the board.