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South Africa wary of Afghanistan banana skin

April 27, 2010 12:54 IST

Afghanistan, who have honed their cricket skills in a warzone, may pose more of a threat to South Africa's hopes of winning the Twenty20 World Cup than the leading nations, captain Graeme Smith said.

"Afghanistan are a potential banana skin because they are unknown but they have a lot of talented cricketers, they've overtaken all the others in the minnow division. It's going to be nerve-wracking playing them," Smith told reporters on Tuesday.

"I read their opener (Karim Sadiq) said he was not scared of facing Dale Steyn and I wouldn't be either if I grew up in a war zone. That's the thing, they have no fear and they have nothing to lose, which makes them dangerous."

South Africa have been grouped with former champions India and Afghanistan in Group C in the tournament which begins on April 30 in West Indies.

While Smith and his team mates know the strengths and weaknesses of the Indians having played against them for years, Afghanistan will be unknown packages as the competition will be their first major international event.

Smith said fast bowler Steyn could turn out to be his trump card as he has been in impressive form for the Bangalore Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which ends this weekend.

"Dale bowling so aggressively in the IPL was a major positive. He showed he can bowl at 150 kph and take wickets, and we can really use that sort of gem," Smith said.

South Africa are also keen to make amends for their shock semi-final exit last year, when despite being favourites they were beaten by eventual champions Pakistan.

"Some of the guys are frustrated and are really motivated to do well. They're crying out for opportunity after the IPL," Smith added.

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