ICC World Twenty20 2009 June 10, 2009

No animosity with Pietersen - Smith

The ICC World Twenty20 hasn't been short of intrigue during the group stage and eye-catching match-ups will continue when the Super Eights begin at Trent Bridge on Thursday. The second game of the day has England taking on South Africa and no contest between the two sides is complete without a mention of the Kevin Pietersen factor.

When the two sides met in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa during 2007, Pietersen was controversially run out at Cape Town after a collision with Shaun Pollock. It was at a stage when there was still a strong undercurrent of tension between Pietersen and Graeme Smith, but after a more harmonious contest in this country last year the South Africa captain believes any issues are now in the past.

"I don't think there's animosity there. There will always be the competitiveness between players. He's a world-class batter," he said. "There's no doubt he'll be up for the game on Thursday and tactically we will look at a few things.

"But I think South African teams have come a long way in terms of the way we play our game. We control our emotions very well now. We are tactically quite astute and calm under pressure. We'd rather look at executing good skills rather than get into scrambles that don't really need to be there."

Smith also expects the hosts to continue the form they showed against Pakistan rather than the hesitancy that led to defeat against Netherlands. "We are preparing like we are going to get the one that played against Pakistan," he said. "England have got some class players and obviously will have home support going into the game."

"It's a great challenge for us. It's a wonderful experience to play England in England and I know all of us are looking forward to the occasion. We've played some good cricket since we've been in England and we just want to carry that forward on Thursday."

He is confident his team can emerge from a tough Super Eights group and progress to the knock-out stages of tournament after they fought back to secure a one-run victory in their final qualifying match against New Zealand.

Both teams were already through to the second phase so it was about building momentum and while South Africa's batting struggled to post 128 for 7, their bowling and fielding impressed as they suffocated the New Zealand chase. Smith's side is now grouped alongside defending champions India, the dangerous West Indies as well as England but he isn't worried about the task ahead.

"We are not looking at the other group and moaning," he said. "This is the job we've got to do. Whoever gets through this group has an advantage. They will have played really competitive cricket through the Super Eights and will probably be better for it going through to the semi-finals."

South Africa fielded an unchanged team throughout their warm-up and group games, resisting to the opportunity to test their bench strength against New Zealand, which means the four who haven't played - Yusuf Abdulla, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong and Robin Peterson - are low on match practice should they be needed at short notice.

Smith, though, was unconcerned and is keen to maintain a settled side throughout. "If you go all the way in the tournament, it's only seven games. It's not like it's 14 or 15. It's not a long tournament," he said. "The guys who aren't playing have trained really well so I am pretty comfortable with where everybody is."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo