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March 19, 2013
With a series win in sight, South Africa have all the motivation they need to seal victory in Durban and a little more. They are not just looking at claiming the trophy but at the manner with which they could secure silverware.
According to Robin Peterson, South Africa want to do it with a game to spare and in front of a crowd that could make the ground feel more like Karachi than Kingsmead.
"It's important for us to get used to winning games under pressure and with big Pakistani support that we are expecting here in Durban," Peterson said. "Pakistan play their best cricket when they need to do something special so we know it's going to be tough, especially when conditions are a little slower. If we get through that, it will give us a lot of confidence for the future."
The surface is expected to favour some turn and Peterson said it will "put Pakistan right back in it" and set up a "nice contest" between a team that want to build consistency and one that has to fight back.
"The one-day team has changed over the last 12 months with giving players a break and injuries," Peterson said. "There is merit in giving guys time off and getting them mentally fresh but on the other side, we still need to gel and find out what makes each other tick. We are in the process of doing that."
South Africa's rotation has mostly been in the bowling department with Dale Steyn rested for the first match and Morne Morkel still nursing a strained hamstring. That has opened the door for the likes of Rory Kleinveldt to have a longer run as Gary Kirsten still decides on combinations.
"It takes a bit of time and we are getting there," Peterson said. "There is no better team to do it against than Pakistan because they are world class and every win you get over them, you build a bit of confidence. If we can stop Pakistan in their tracks that will be important for us."
The next two matches are the last South Africa will play for two months before they reconvene for the Champions Trophy in June. There, the prospect of major tournament silverware looms as does an important step to the World Cup in 2015. "The next two years are important for South African one-day cricket and you need to know what's in your reserves," Peterson said. "It's important that guys come up, play well under pressure and don't just get thrust in."
Being without Jacques Kallis, Morkel and JP Duminy has, according to Peterson, "tested our depth as a squad". AB de Villiers gave them a pass mark for their performance at the Wanderers and Peterson seconded his captain, saying: "We did extremely well in that game to defend after Shahid Afridi played a blinder. The guys handled the pressure well."
Now that Afridi's eye is in, Peterson warned that South Africa will have to be alert to the dangers he poses again: "People have become used to him doing things like that, he is an exceptional ball striker and he has impressive hand-eye co-ordination."
He also sounded a reminder that South Africa have batsmen capable of causing destruction too. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers proved that in a record stand in Johannesburg, which was ultimately the difference between the two teams. "I've become so accustomed to Hashim and AB doing special things with the cricket bat that I wasn't surprised," Peterson said. "There was great innovation by AB and Hashim just anchored as he does. It was fantastic."
A little extra responsibility will fall on the pair now that Faf du Plessis has been ruled out of the series. "We will miss Faf's experience and what he brings in the field," Peterson said. He indicated it will be David Miller and not Quinton de Kock who takes du Plessis' place. "In saying that, we've got a local boy and conditions will be familiar to him. David Miller is obviously the spare batter in the squad. I don't know if he will be selected but he has done well at this level before."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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