Smith full of praise for 'superb' Zaheer

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Tempting as it may have been, Proteas captain Graeme Smith refused to be drawn into a war of words on the night of his team's first Test against India in Johannesburg.

Tempting as it may have been, Proteas captain Graeme Smith refused to be drawn into a war of words on the night of his team's first Test against India in Johannesburg.

Where much younger, less experienced, Smith may have used the platform he was given at the Wanderers on Tuesday to respond to comments made by his competitors, the prolific left-handed opener wasn't about to get caught fishing at a wide delivery outside off-stump.

Smith – coming off a double century in his previous innings in the UAE against Pakistan – acknowledged that India's Zaheer Kahn has had his number on previous occasions, but explained that he had overcome similar situations over the years.

Kahn has dismissed Smith on no less than 12 times and was quoted as saying in the build-up to the match that he only needed to show up to claim Smith's scalp.

Asked to give his opinion on the matter, Smith smiled as he said: "I've had enough battles with bowlers over the years. It's another wonderful opportunity to front up to an outstanding bowler."

For the Proteas skipper it was more a case of his men playing to their potential.

He knows many of his men top the charts in the ICC world rankings and he would have taken note of how India's batsmen have yet to adapt to the pace of South African wickets.

On a strategic level, Smith said that maintaining the standard of play that saw his men become the top ranked side in the world is what would matter most against an uncharacteristically inexperienced Indian outfit.

He mentioned that the level of maturity and professionalism in his side is at a satisfactory level and added that they had gone the extra mile in preparing for the contest.

Asked whether his bowlers would try to bully India's batsmen into submission, Smith said that the approach his men had followed has reaped benefits and that they would stick to what they do best.

"We play the game hard but there's a huge respect factor for the game and our opposition," he said.

"As the number one team I would like to see us play some good cricket."

As one should expect when ahead of any contest stage in the Test arena, Smith insisted that complacency would not be a factor.

He said that India had quality players in their team, although he agreed that it would be stern test of character for many of the younger players.

"Obviously they're hugely talented but it's a very different line-up to the one I've become accustomed to playing against," Smith continued.

"Touring in other parts of the world is a big test of character and that's going to be on show in these two Test matches."

The Proteas made only one change to the last Test side they selected Hashim Amla in place of Dean Elgar.

India will only confirm their starting 11 on Wednesday ahead of the start of the match.

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