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Swann: 'We still believe' Published: 04 March 2010

Graeme Swann has urged England to beat South Africa and prove they are still ICC World Cup contenders after their shock defeat to a Kevin O’Brien-inspired Ireland.

England were humbled in Bangalore after O’Brien smashed the fastest century in World Cup history to help Ireland chase down 328.

Swann, alongside Tim Bresnan, has impressed during this tournament but the team's other bowlers have struggled with England conceding 959 runs in thee matches.

Though the batting - led by captain Andrew Strauss - has looked impressive, England have also been unusually poor in the field.

Swann, who has six wickets at an average of 23.50 so far, insists England believe they can still win the competition, but conceded a vast improvement is needed.

Wayward England

"If we are going to win this World Cup - which we truly believe we can - we've got to go out and prove it, and we do that first and foremost in the field." said the off-spinner.

"Four or five days ago, the whole world was saying 'Oh my God, England can win this' - because we didn't get destroyed by that invincible Indian team.

"We know the fickle nature of the world, and we're going to ignore that and just carry on and play the best cricket we can.

"I don't think it's a massive challenge now - it's one game and it's done and dusted.

"A couple of catches that went down cost us the game, coupled with something you could describe as wayward bowling."

South Africa impress

England’s opponents South Africa have done nothing to dispel the belief that they are one of the tournament favourites after dominant wins over the West Indies and Netherlands.

The Proteas have often been accused of ‘choking’ at major tournaments but have looked imperious so far.

Strauss is the tournament’s leading run scorer with 280 from three innings but hot on his heals is South African wicket-keeper batsman AB de Villiers.

De Villiers has made back-to-back tons - a 98-ball 134 against Netherlands and 107 from 105 deliveries against the West Indies.

The right-hander is ranked second in the ICC One Day International batting rankings, with teammate Hashim Amla - who made 113 against Netherlands - in the number one spot.

Wicket takers

The Proteas also boast a fearsome bowling line-up with the express pace duo Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel taking the new ball.

In the past, Graeme Smith’s side have struggled to find a quality attacking spin option but the naturalisation of Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir appears to have changed that.

Tahir made his international debut in South Africa's opening match of the tournament and has proved a sensation, picking up seven wickets at an astonishing average of just 8.57 so far.

Many of England’s batsmen will have played with and against Tahir during his spells in county cricket and that experience will be vital in combating the 31-year-old in Chennai.


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