We Want to be at the Top of Our Group: Graeme Smith

We Want to be at the Top of Our Group: Graeme Smith
South Africa today became the first team to qualify for the World Cup quarterfinals from Group B and skipper Graeme Smith said they were done with the first part of their job and now looking forward to the knock-out stage of the tournament.

After a shaky batting effort, South Africa responded strongly with the ball to beat minnows Ireland by 131 runs at Eden Gardens here.

"We've done the first part of our job. We want to be at the top of our group. Three good games ahead and then the Cup. We are now looking forward to the knock-out stage," Smith said.

The Proteas had a wobbly start after sent in to bat as their top order collapsed in the absence of leading run-getter AB de Villiers, who is down with a thigh strain.

But sensible batting by left-handed duo of JP Duminy (99) and Colin Ingram (46), who were engaged in an 87-run partnership for the sixth wicket, led the fightback.

Smith said he was pleased with the way the South African middle-order responded in the last two games.

"When we came into the tournament we were just thinking how it's going to be. Our middle-order responded pretty well in the last two games.

"We put ourselves under pressure with some stupid run outs today but the guys responded really well after that. The wicket was not that easy to bat but Duminy batted really well under pressure. He really held things together and then Colin Ingram, who hasn't played for a while, came in and batted well," he said.

The defeat ended Ireland's slim hope of reaching the knockout stages but Irish captain William Porterfield said they have a lot of positives to take back from this tournament.

"We've shown competitive spirit, in a lot of the games we kept ourselves in the game. We've got a lot of positives from this tournament," he said.

About today's defeat, he said, "We started off pretty well, got wickets up front and pegged them back. We were happy enough at half time chasing 270 but just lost wickets. We've been pretty good with our ground fielding throughout the tournament but we missed a couple of catches."

Man-of-the-match Duminy, who had rescued the Proteas from an early batting collapse with his 99 from 103 balls, said, "The circumstances were a bit tense when I came in, the key was to try and stay as calm as possible."

"I've done it a fair number of times now, and I've grown into this role nicely, and I hope it continues. I was trying to hit the ball out of the ground at the end, you never know when a few runs might make all the difference in the game," he added.

South Africa will take on Bangladesh in their last Group B league match on Saturday in Mirpur.
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