Confidence sky-high for top-ranking Proteas

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg:Veteran all-rounder Shaun Pollock expressed confidence that South Africa could bring home the World Cup as the Proteas took over from Australia at the top of the One-day rankings.

Pollock, South Africa's outstanding performer in the recent series against Pakistan, said the Proteas had no reason to fear anyone ahead of the tournament which begins next month in the Caribbean.

"I believe we have the ability," he told the Sunday Times. "If we get it right on the day, we have shown we can beat anyone."

South Africa have had a miserable time at previous World Cups. As the host nation in 2003, they were embarrassingly knocked out before the business end of the competition after a mix-up over their target rate in a rain-affected match.

They also lost out to Australia in 1999 after Herschelle Gibbs famously failed to hang on to a catch off Steve Waugh.

Pollock, who will be appearing in his fourth and final World Cup, said the current team was the strongest he had played in.

"I believe there is something special about this one. And it will be extra special for me because it will be my last one," added the 33-year-old who is currently rated number one bowler and allrounder in the short form of the game.

Skipper Graeme Smith, who replaced Pollock at the helm after the 2003 debacle, also said in a weekend interview the team was on the top of its game.

"The one-day side has just been getting better and better. Our fielding has gone through the roof, the team ethic is getting better, the players are maturing, the confidence is high and players are performing well under pressure, which is fantastic," said Smith.

Confidence is sky-high in the South African camp after they comfortably saw off both Pakistan and India in one-day series over the summer, losing just once.

Australia however will enter the tournament amid an alarming downturn in form, having lost their last four internationals on the trot.

New Zealand's victory on Sunday in Auckland against an admittedly depleted Australian side meant that South Africa leapfrog Ricky Ponting's team who are the currently World Cup holders.

Smith however has downplayed the importance of the number one ranking.

"It doesn't make us a better team than Australia. One-day cricket is about performing on the day," he told The Star newspaper.

Australia and South Africa have been drawn together in the group stage of the tournament and will meet at St Kitts on March 24.


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