Proteas to cut to the chase
South African captain Graeme Smith believes the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup could come down to how well sides can chase a total.
It is very early in the South African season to be playing a world event.
The cricket season in South Africa generally doesn't start until October, so the nature of the pitches at the three venues around the country (Wanderers, Newlands and Kingsmead) and the fact that this format is still relatively new, means most sides, and certainly South Africa, will opt to bat second if the opportunity allows.
"The thing about chasing is that it allows you to manage the innings much better; you know what you've got to do to get yourself into a position to win," Smith said on Monday, as his team wrapped up their preparations for Tuesday's opening match against the West Indies, starting at the Wanderers at 6pm.
"If you're batting first you have to get a really good total on the board that creates enough pressure for the other team to make mistakes," he added.
Newlands in Cape Town might be the exception, simply because no one really knows what to expect from the pitch.
Preparations at the ground have been hampered by a rather wet winter in the Cape, and night matches there - which in 50-over matches in the past have tended to favour the team batting first.
"Maybe Cape Town might be slightly different, because we don't know how the wicket will play. Also we have to think about how it plays at night. None of us has played much night cricket for a while," Smith explained.
"But if the wickets play really good, then most teams will choose to chase."
South Africa have in recent times become good chasers - did anyone say 438? - so Smith's theory has some justification.
However, the West Indies are a dangerous team, who, especially in this format, are capable of upsetting even the best-laid plans.
The squad is packed from top to bottom with match-winners, all of whom play with typical Caribbean flamboyance.
"For us they've always been a slight bogey team going into these tournaments.
"They are a side we respect in this format, especially in the 20/20 game.
"I think they can be very dangerous," Smith said.
Just how dangerous was demonstrated in their 35-run warm-up match win over New Zealand on Sunday, when fast bowler Daren Powell returned extraordinary figures of 3 for 4 in four overs.
West Indies coach David Moore believes the two sides are fairly evenly matched, which will make for a fascinating encounter.
"They are a bit similar to us; they have strong, long hitters of the ball," Moore said.
"Their bowling has in the past been a bit one dimensional but that's not something we are going to take for granted."
The West Indies have a balanced batting side, that combines the control of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, with the power-hitting of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo.