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September 13, 2007
The South African team arrived in Cape Town on Wednesday and are preparing for back-to-back matches at Newlands over the weekend. Smith, who picked up a soft tissue injury to his right hand after taking a blow from Daren Powell, didn't bat during the team's training session at Bellville. Coach Mickey Arthur hopes he will have a hit on Friday and admitted losing both Smith and Gibbs would be a significant blow.
"They are two of our most experienced players and they are in good form at the moment so it is a little bit of a concern but we are confident of having them ready for Sunday," he said, adding that AB de Villiers is likely to remain at No. 3 with one of Gulam Bodi or JP Duminy replacing Gibbs as opener against Bangladesh.
After playing the tournament's opening fixture in the high-scoring conditions at the Wanderers, Arthur is well aware his team will have to adjust quickly to new conditions in Cape Town. "We spoke about what a good score was a lot during our warm-ups matches and we thought 170-175 might be about right but we had to adjust that, especially on the highveldt. But down here I think the scores are going to be slightly lower.
"I was really pleased we could get a practice today and we saw when the guys batted today that they need to hold their shape more. With the ball you have to be pinpoint-accurate and even the fielders need to adjust. That's why today was very important."
Despite being set an imposing target of 206 against West Indies, South Africa cruised home on the back of Gibbs' 90. Athough Arthur believes that batting second is an advantage in Twenty20s, he thinks the situation will be more variable at Newlands.
"Batting second allows you to manage your innings a lot better," he said. "You know exactly what you are chasing so it does become easier. I think down here at Newlands it could be slightly different and you can put pressure on by putting a big score on the board because the wickets are slower."
Although there is now nothing riding on the Bangladesh game other than pride, and some prize money, momentum in such a compacted tournament is vital and South Africa will need to remain focused. After watching their neighbours, Zimbabwe, overcome Australia on Wednesday, Arthur is well aware that the gap between sides is narrowed in Twenty20. "You can't take anyone lightly. It does become a little bit of a lottery and class-wise the teams coming a little closer together."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the IPL match between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab in Abu Dhabi