Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Less pressure on South Africa this WC, says Amla

With the chokers tag behind, South Africa will arrive in India on Tuesday in search of their first ICC World Cup in 13 years but experienced batsman Hashim Amla said there is less pressure and hype around the team this time which might act in their favour in the mega event.

"In the past, the team was loaded with big names and it was frequently the number one in world rankings," Amla told the Afrikaans daily Rapport.

"This created huge expectations and placed great pressure on the boys but that is something we are not experiencing now. This time around there is a lot less fuss being made about us and that is how we prefer it," he said.

The right-hander said approaching the tournament without the favourites tag gives the Proteas an excellent opportunity to break their World Cup title jinx.

South Africa are currently third in the ICC ODI rankings and 11 players out of its 15-member squad have never played in a World Cup before - Amla being one of the them.

With so many new faces in the squad, Amla, who has only 42 ODIs under his belt but is considered as a core member of the South African outfit, considers himself to be one of the senior members in the team.

"I definitely feel like one of the older guys in the team, even if I have nowhere near the experience of someone like Graeme (Smith), Jacques (Kallis). Yet every game is a tremendous learning school for me," he said.

Amla also praised Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who is expected to make his debut for South Africa in the World Cup to be co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February 19 to April 2.

"Imran is a special player but we must not expect miracles of him. It is important that he be given the opportunity to find his feet even if he does have lots of experience at the first class level," he said.

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