No team can match us, boasts South Africa star Steyn

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Dale Steyn has delivered a Champions Trophy challenge by saying no team will match hosts South Africa in the two-week tournament starting on Tuesday.

Updated: September 21, 2009 07:54 IST
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Fast bowler Dale Steyn has delivered a 2009 ICC Champions Trophy challenge by saying no team will match hosts South Africa in the two-week tournament starting on Tuesday.

South Africa regained first place in the world one-day rankings Sunday after Australia lost to England and the Graeme Smith-led side confront Sri Lanka at Centurion Park in the opening match.

"I believe that this team has played fantastic one-day and Test cricket in the last year and we have really hit our straps," Steyn told reporters ahead of the second most prestigious ODI tournament after the World Cup.

"If the team play to their potential, and this might sound cocky, I really believe no side can match us at the Champions Trophy."

Steyn does not give a Sri Lankan team, considered dangerous outsiders in the race for the two-million-dollar first prize, much hope of causing an upset in a day-night fixture.

"They have not been here for a long time apart from those players who came for the Indian Premier League and that was during winter when the ball was not doing a lot and it was Twenty20 cricket."

South Africa crave success in the Champions Trophy to confirm what the rankings have been saying for some time - that they are a class act when it comes to the 50-over game.

The least expected of Smith and his squad is that they qualify for the October 5 final and many South Africans would dream that bitter rivals Australia provide the opposition and are conquered.

Sri Lanka are good enough to lift the trophy even if it is title holders Australia, South Africa and India who are most commonly mentioned as likely winners.

Supreme spinner Muttiah Muralitharan needs no introduction and fast medium-pacer Nuwan Kulasekara sat atop the world bowling rankings last week with his famous team-mate sixth.

However, batting could be the Sri Lankan Achilles heel with senior figure Mahela Jayawardene conceding they have been "patchy and inconsistent" in that department at ODI level.

Minus injured Herschelle Gibbs, the Proteas still boast a formidable array of batsmen with Smith, veteran Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy in the vanguard.

Add the pace and swing of Steyn, Wayne Parnell and Kallis and the spin of Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe, who captured four wickets in a warm-up win over the West Indies, and there are solid foundations for optimism.

Pessimists will raise the word that makes Smith see red - chokers - and also express alarm that the team is going into the tournament without a competitive fixture since April.

The 'chokers' tag emanates from reaching eight ICC semi-finals and winning just one - by 92 runs against Sri Lanka in the inaugural Champions Trophy 11 years ago in Bangladesh.

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