No scar but need to curb Johnson, says Graeme Smith

South Africa's captain Graeme Smith runs after a ball after he failed to make a catch during the third day of their test cricket match against Australia in Centurion February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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South Africa's captain Graeme Smith runs after a ball after he failed to make a catch during the …

By Mark Gleeson

PRETORIA (Reuters) - South Africa will turn their attention to finding a way to negate the formidable threat posed by fiery Australian Mitchell Johnson, captain Graeme Smith said following his team's comprehensive 281-run defeat in the first test on Saturday.

"There is no doubt Mitchell Johnson was the difference in this game and we have to find way to curb him and put him under pressure in the next two tests," said Smith as South Africa licked their wounds after losing the first of the three-test series.

Johnson's 12-wicket haul came as a result of some vicious deliveries, one of which cut Ryan McLaren behind the ear and the other hit Hashim Amla full in the face.

The left-arm paceman bowled consistently around the 150km mark and scythed through the home team's batting to produce career best figures.

"I believe the wicket played a big part," said Smith, confirming the assertion of the Australian captain Michael Clarke that the surface at SuperSport Park was "nasty".

The wicket for the second test at Port Elizabeth, which starts on Thursday, is expected to be docile in comparison.

Smith dismissed media assertions his side had been mentally scarred by aggression of the Australian paceman, whose formidable form continued after being man of the series when they won the Ashes last month after a 5-0 whitewash of England.

"I doubt there is much mental scarring, we have lost a game of cricket and were beaten comprehensively," he said.

"It's important that we move away from that, there are still two big test matches left in this series and we need to make sure that we perform really well in the next one, that's our focus.

"I feel that, even though it's been disappointing, this game will benefit us going into the next game. I think our bowlers have got good time on their legs and hopefully we will have a higher intensity going into the next game.

"From a batting perspective, I think we have some good things to talk about, if we can post some good totals which we have done in the last period of time we will have the ability to put Australia under pressure," Smith added.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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