South African skipper happy with Ntini's return to form

LAHORE, Oct 19 (Reuters) South Africa captain Graeme Smith welcomed the return to form of strike bowler Makhaya Ntini in Pakistan.

The South African fast bowler, with 313 test and 246 one-day wickets, was dropped during the 2007 World Cup and also in last month's Twenty20 World Cup due to a dip in form.

But Ntini delivered a reminder of his threat by taking four for 69 in the first one-day international yesterday that set up a comfortable win at Gaddafi stadium.

''He struggled in the first test and started to come back in the second. So it was nice to see him strike again with the ball,'' Smith said after his team's 45-run win.

''He has been our best bowler for a while now so it is nice to see him hitting the steps now, which is good as he knows himself he was a little bit not up to his standards.

''He showed a bit of character in the way he bowled. It was great the way he made the strikes for us to have the opposition on the back foot early,'' he added.

Smith was confident that having controlled the two tests and first one-day game his team had a good chance of making it 2-0 tomorrow.

''It is a good start for us and there are a lot of positives. We played really good cricket and it was important to start with a win after the test series,'' he said.

''If we can win the next game and carry on this way this season it would be very encouraging for us.'' Reuters AB DB1048

Story first published: Friday, October 19, 2007, 11:36 [IST]
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