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September 26, 2009
England's victory against Sri Lanka has added an interesting twist to Group B, where every remaining match is of vital importance. South Africa have to beat England in Centurion in order for their semi-final hopes to not depend heavily on a difficult permutation and combination of results. AB de Villiers, though, is confident South Africa will "come off when the pressure is there", despite their history of falling short in must-win games.
Another victory for England will virtually ensure their semi-final berth. South Africa, on the other hand, have only one win from two games going into their final group match. The pressure on them will be especially severe if Sri Lanka beat New Zealand to record their second group-stage victory.
"The most important thing for us tomorrow is to win, to focus on our basics and to carry out our game plan well," de Villiers said. "We can't be worrying about run-rates. The important thing for us is to win and to get to four points on the log. If we get to 40 overs and we are close to winning the game, then we will definitely up the tempo a bit.
"It is a massive game for us. We normally come off when the pressure is there and we need to win. The same thing happened at the 2007 World Cup when we had a 'must win' game against England and we managed to do it then and pull through."
The Centurion pitch won't be as helpful for England's fast bowlers as the surface in Johannesburg, where James Anderson and Graham Onions wrecked the Sri Lankan top order on Friday. "The Wanderers wicket suited them. In addition they have just come out of a tough series at home and managed to win the last one there where they had similar conditions," de Villiers said. "But they played extremely well against a very strong Sri Lankan side and deserved their win. It is going to be a tough group for us and I think it is going to come down to net run-rate."
Andy Flower, England's team director, said his side's success against Sri Lanka was "confidence-boosting" but added that it was only one game in a tough tournament. "The guys did brilliantly yesterday against a very good side. We knew they would be tough to turn over," Flower said. "It was great to see the batsmen see it through after some of our batting travails against Australia."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper