Smith - Spinners stepped up
South Africa captain lauds his side after their second ODI triumph
Last Updated: 10/04/09 11:51am
Smith: Strong leader
Graeme Smith praised the "clinical" nature of South Africa's 25-run victory over Australia in the third ODI in Cape Town on Thursday.
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"It was a professional evening and very happy for the guys. We're 2-1 up now, we would like to be clinical and finish on Monday."
Graeme Smith Quotes of the week
Jacques Kallis (70) and AB de Villiers (80) laid the foundations with a 114-run partnership to help the Proteas recover from 50-2 to go on and post a total of 289-6.
Spinner Roelof van der Merwe then picked up three wickets as the Aussies struggled to 264-7 having been delayed at one stage by a floodlight failure.
"We knew the wicket was going to be slow today, so we just wanted to be nice and strong up front, set a little platform for ourselves to really finish well," Smith said.
"I think we kind of set ourselves the target of 240 and we exceeded that purely because Jacques and AB batted so well through the middle there.
"It was a very clinical performance."
Off-spinner Johan Botha claimed the valuable scalp of Australian skipper Ricky Ponting and left-armer Van der Merwe took the wickets of Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey.
And Smith was full of praise for the way his slow bowlers tied the tourists down in the middle overs on an unusually dry Newlands pitch.
"Then with the ball I thought the guys did well again, especially the spinners. We have learned to back them and they stepped up nicely," the South African skipper added.
"It was a professional evening and very happy for the guys. We're 2-1 up now, we would like to be clinical and finish on Monday. I have said to the guys that lets finish the season on a high."
Ponting said Australia had let the game slip away at the back end of South Africa's innings, as the hosts were allowed to rack up 89 runs in 9.1 overs.
"They snuck away from us at the end of the innings and I guess when you keep wickets in hand in this game, then you can do that," he said.
"I never really felt that they had got away from us at all, until those last five or six overs. De Villiers and Kallis they obviously played beautifully, we just needed to break that partnership through the middle, but unfortunately we couldn't do that."
Callum Ferguson (63) and James Hopes (63 not out) gave the Australian innings respectability with a sixth wicket stand of 97, but they lacked support from the top order.
"Once again today, 15, 35 and 20 from the top three, so that's some starts there," Ponting concluded.
"I thought Hopes and Ferguson played beautifully tonight, probably without being a real threat of winning the game, but we've come up 20-odd runs short.
"So there's still a lot of improvement left for the team. We got to lift our game and we'll have to win in PE."