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Graeme Smith in a bullish mood

Bridgetown: South Africa captain Graeme Smith was in a bullish mood ahead of his side's World Twenty20 Super Eights clash against England here on Saturday.

Both teams will return to the Kensington Oval this weekend on the back of convincing wins on the first day's play in the second round here on Thursday, with South Africa beating New Zealand by 13 runs and England defeating defending champion Pakistan by six wickets.

It was just over a week ago that England beat South Africa by five wickets in a warm-up match in Barbados but Smith believes his Proteas are now starting to come into full bloom.

“Every game in this competition is now crucial. They (England) will have confidence but we faced them in a warm-up game so we have a pretty good idea how we'd like to play against them,” Smith said.

The Proteas have been tinkering with their top order in the Caribbean but against New Zealand appeared to have hit on a winning formula, Smith opening alongside Jacques Kallis ahead of the recalled Herschelle Gibbs at No. 3.

“We've been searching for the right combination and we certainly started a little rusty in this tournament,” Smith admitted.

“The platform was there for Albie, the guys up front had done a really good job setting up the game. It was nice to back him and to see him play a knock like that was terrific.”

Morkel's reputation as a big-hitter has tended to disguise his lack of significant scores for his country, albeit the 28-year-old has enjoyed success in the Twenty20 Indian Premier League with the Chennai Super Kings.

However, since making his Test debut against Australia at Cape Town in March 2009 his form has dipped so much that Morkel has not even been selected for the one-day leg of South Africa's tour of the West Indies tour which follows the World Twenty20.

Morkel's lone Test appearance did see him make a fifty and he also scored a half century against a modest Zimbabwe attack but Thursday's innings was his second best in all international formats in 15 months.

“It was nice to perform for your country and I was pleased to come in and play an innings under pressure during a World Cup,” Morkel said.

Tempting fate

Kevin Pietersen seemed almost desperate to avoid tempting fate ahead of England's clash with his native South Africa despite his match-winning role against Pakistan.

With South Africa comfortably defeating New Zealand by 13 runs, the stage is set for the latest chapter of Pietersen's often fraught relationship with his homeland when England faces the Proteas here on Saturday.

But while England captain Paul Collingwood and Pakistan coach Waqar Younis were piling on the plaudits, Pietersen praised England's bowlers.

“Anything can happen in Twenty20,” said Pietersen. “I could get out first ball (against South Africa) on Saturday,” he said.

“It was nice, a nice wicket to bat on, and the boys bowled well. Then we chased down a real gettable total, which was great.

There was a scare for England when Pietersen needed on-pitch medical attention early in his innings after limping while attempting a run.

However, the Hampshire batsman insisted: “No concern — I just hit my bat on my ankle. It's bleeding a little bit, but no problem.

Pietersen could leave the Caribbean in the next 10 days to be with his wife in London where she is expecting the birth of the couple's first child.

He was adamant though that impending fatherhood would not distract him from his cricket, saying: “If it's after the tournament that the baby comes, it's after the tournament “If it's during the tournament, I'll still be giving it my best shot whenever I play for England — no matter where or in what situation.” — AFP

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