World Cup: If dreams come true, it will be India-South Africa final, says Graeme Smith | Cricket news

NEW DELHI: The smile doesn’t fade from his face even after the interaction is over. Former South African captain Graeme Smith is enjoying a great show by the Proteas in the ongoing ODI World Cup. He is also passionate about Springboks rugby World Cuptriumph on Sunday. As commissioner of the SA20 league, his country’s sporting achievements, particularly in cricket, delight him to no end.
Graeme, the way both teams are playing in the World Cup, how are you looking forward to the clash between India and South Africa in Kolkata on November 5? Do you expect these two to meet in the knockouts as well?
I hope they (meet) in the final! I’m going back to South Africa on Wednesday, but if South Africa make it to the final, we’ll have to clamor for tickets and try to get a hotel in Ahmedabad. India were so dominant that they were not even tested. I have played against India at the Eden Gardens on many occasions. It’s just an incredible experience. It’s a fantastic stadium to play in. Our players did so well that they exceeded expectations. So a big clash is coming. South Africa have India, New Zealand and Afghanistan ahead of them and the fact that they almost qualified for the semi-finals is exciting. Still, Australia started to play well. New Zealand knows how to win. The knockouts will be tough. India, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia will be the top four in my estimation. If dreams come true, it will be a final between South Africa and India.
Which team is the favorite to win the World Cup at this stage?
I have to say South Africa! Everything points to India as the team to beat in this tournament. They handle pressure well. They know their home conditions very well. They have an excellent batting line-up and a really attacking line-up of bowling, spin and seam. So they are the team to beat but my heart will always want South Africa to win the tournament and who knows?
with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj there, is this the deadliest attack India has ever seen?
Over the past few years, India have been developing fast bowlers. Now you have two spinners on the goal. Having Bumrah back at the top has been a huge boon for India as he takes wickets with the new ball and every time he bowls. Shami was outstanding last night. We talk about the batsmen dominating the World Cup, the scores were big, we saw a lot of hundreds, so for Rohit Sharma (Indian captain), five bowlers who can take wickets and change the impact of the game are such assets.
Speaking of big scores, do you think the wickets are ever too flat at the World Cup?
It’s just the nature of surfaces. In that sense, India has a huge asset in attacking bowlers, people who can take wickets. My concern with One Day cricket is that there haven’t been enough close matches in this tournament. Who knows what the next two weeks will bring.
Is a Heinrich Klaasen the best cricketer in the world?
If you look at his performances in franchise cricket and for South Africa in the last two years, for me he is the best white ball player in the middle order. If he gets a hundred, South Africa are likely to win 99% of their games. He gets it in such a way that it is difficult for the opposition to match. In (Aiden) Markram, (David) Miller and Klaasen, South Africa have three dynamic middle-order batsmen at No.4, No.5 and No.6. They also play good spin. In their time, they can be the most destructive fisters in the world. This is a great advantage for South Africa.
Rohit Sharma seems to have rediscovered his aggressive batting style…
Yes, he plays well. It ebbs and flows. I was here during the IPL and people were asking if he was still at his best. Now people are raving about him. Class is permanent, form can sometimes be temporary. He and Virat (Kohli) had an excellent start to the tournament. Two massive players at the head of the line, allowing the youngsters to play around them. If they run into their day, you’re in trouble. Good to see Rohit playing well.

Ferdinand Medina

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