Proteas progressing nicely, says Smith

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The Independent Online

South Africa captain Graeme Smith was delighted with his side's comfortable victory over New Zealand in their first Super Eight contest in the World Twenty20. An onslaught of sixes from Albie Morkel helped them to a 13-run victory over New Zealand in Barbados on Thursday, setting up a mouthwatering contest against England today at the same venue.

Both sides have played one, won one, after Morne Morkel (40) smashed five sixes in 18 balls and A B de Villiers hit 47 not out to help the Proteas recover from a slow start to post 170 for 4. Jesse Ryder top-scored for New Zealand, but their run chase never really got going and they could manage only 157 for 7. From the moment Brendon McCullum fell to a spectacular one-handed catch by Gibbs in the first over of their reply, New Zealand did not look like keeping up with the rate.

The win put South Africa top of Group E after the first round of Super Eight matches, ahead of England on run rate. Smith was enthused by his side's display and believes that they are improving as the tournament progresses.

After losing their opening match of the competition to India the Proteas thrashed minnows Afghanistan by 59 runs earlier this week before again impressing against the more formidable Kiwis. "[It was] very good. It was back-to-back games so we wanted to play with energy, we played clever cricket and had a good intensity so I am very happy," Smith said yesterday.

"I think we controlled the game pretty well – it was a very professional performance. It's exciting for us that we are improving every game and we have a big game against England now.

"We started a little bit rusty in the competition, we hadn't played together for a long period of time but we seem to be progressing every game. Hopefully, we can carry on that trend."

Defeat for New Zealand realistically leaves them needing to win their last two Super Eight matches against Pakistan and England.

Their captain, Daniel Vettori, believes that situation could suit them after they strung a series of wins together to reach the final of the Champions Trophy last October. "I hope that sits well with us – it did in the Champions Trophy," he said. "We showed that then when we had to win games on end and it's the same now.

"We're playing against teams we've played a lot lately and are familiar with so we have some confidence. They are going to be big games."