Cricket World Cup 2011

India-Pakistan: 'World War 3'

2011-03-29 22:23
Mahendra Dhoni (File)

Eduan Roos

Colombo - India are up against Pakistan on Wednesday hoping to take another step towards a first world trophy in 28 years, and definitely not to restore diplomatic relations between the countries.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Tuesday that his team is not concerned about the hype over the encounter or the high expectations of supporters.

Local newspapers and TV advertisements have already dubbed the World Cup semi-final “World War 3” and the “Match of the Century”, but Dhoni considers it just another game.

“Of course we are very excited about the semi-final and a little nervous, but it does not make a difference who we play against. We have prepared for the match like any other and it’s important for each one of us to do what we have done until now,” he said.

While the International Cricket Council (ICC) denies it, there have been persistent rumours that the final will be moved from Mumbai to Kolkata should Pakistan beat India.

It is due to fears for revenge following terror attacks in the city in November 2008.

The tension between the neighbouring countries reached boiling point when a Pakistani terror group accepted responsibility for the attacks that killed 166 people in India’s biggest city.

Armed police officers have been patrolling the streets of Mohali the whole week, and the Pakistani ministry had warned earlier that it would keep a close watch on the match.

Indian premier Manmohan Singh also had to give special permission for his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani, to be able to watch the match in the PCA Stadium.

Dhoni added: “All that is expected of us is to play good cricket and not get carried away with everything that comes with it - like the political element.

“Yes, a few important people will be in attendance, but it’s just another cricket match and as is the case with every other one there will be a winner and loser after 100 overs.”

Dhoni views Shahid Afridi’s leg-spinners as the only immediate threat to his side.

Pakistan’s captain is the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 21.

“Afridi is definitely the big danger man, but they also have (Umar) Gul, who can bowl with a lot of pace and generate reverse swing. There are also other bowlers that have been excellent,” said Dhoni.

“The Indian team is used to all the expectations, but for the past few days we have tried not to watch TV or read newspapers and just to concentrate on our preparation.”

Afridi warned on Tuesday that India could easily crumble under pressure.

“They are the favourites and people expect that they should win the tournament. Nobody thought we would progress this far,” said the Pakistan captain.


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