Smith, Kallis keen to build on victory
Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, has praised his side's clinical show in the fifth ODI against Pakistan, which gave them the series 3-2. Pakistan had managed to draw level twice in the closely-fought series, with one-wicket victories in the second and fourth matches, but South Africa lifted their performance for a convincing 57-run win in the decider.
"I think that was our best performance. Being the crunch game, I was proud of the way we played, we looked relaxed, positive and posted a good total," Smith said after the match. "I think initially, the first 10 to 15 overs, the way Hashim [Amla] played and everyone played with confidence and freedom. They really set up a good innings and then JP Duminy and Johan Botha finished that partnership and helped us get 317, that was great to see. I have to give it to the bowlers, they were the ones who had question marks on their heads and they stood up and performed well."
Smith was full of appreciation for Jacques Kallis, who top-scored with 83 to lead South Africa to 317 before derailing Pakistan's chase with a three-wicket burst in the middle overs. "I've run out of things to say about Jacques and he completed 11,000 runs today. He is an asset for South African cricket and when he does walk away from the game it's going to be a big loss to us. But now that we have got him, we want to make the most of him, bowling 10 overs and making hundreds every game. His experience is great and it's great to see him come back from injury and do well."
The series was a crucial part of South Africa's build-up to next year's World Cup in the subcontinent, but Smith was guarded against reading too much into the victory. "We are not predicting anything on the World Cup, there is a lot of cricket still to be played. For me ... I think we have taken some big steps forward.
"We could have won the series 4-0 or 5-0 and those are the things we learn from and become more clinical but there are lots of positives as all 15 have contributed. Obviously we would like to build on those in the India series."
Kallis, adjudged the Man of the Match, was happy with his performance in the crunch game, having come into the series following a fitness break and suffered from a bout of dehydration in the first ODI, which forced him out of the next match. "I am trying to put as much hard work as I can and trying to be in the best condition physically and mentally going into the World Cup, who knows it might be my last one. I want to give it my all, as long as I keep contributing and keep helping the youngsters along the way. To put great performances on an important day like this gives me great pleasure."
During his innings, Kallis became only the sixth player to pass the 11,000-run mark in ODIs, a feat he was not aware of at the time. "I didn't actually know until I got out and the guys congratulated me on 11,000. It's been a great honour. I have certainly enjoyed the years and hopefully there are many more to come."
South Africa have traditionally under-performed at the World Cup, and have not made a single final despite usually being one of the front-runners. Kallis believed the disappointments were because of the side's approach to pressure games. "The message that I can give to the guys is to really enjoy the World Cup. Perhaps, in the past, we haven't quite enjoyed it as much as we have normal games. It's probably the most important thing, putting the hard work down and getting ready for it, but we can't make a too big a deal of it. Just got to go there and play the kind of cricket we have been playing for the last few months and we will be alright."