When the entire world is anxiously waiting for the outcome of most awaited India Pak encounter in the World Cup tomorrow, cool captain MS Dhoni is apparently all prepared to take on arch rival Pakistan in a fairly confident and easy manner. On Saturday, the Indian captain reminded his team to forget their losing streak in Australia as they prepared for their World Cup opener and start afresh.  

The defending champions have come across a miserable defeat in Australia where they were beaten 2-0 in the Tests. Thereafter they did not win a match in the subsequent tri-series.

But Dhoni firmly believes that the high-voltage clash against Pakistan, which he labeled as a “prized game” on the cricket calendar, has become an opportunity for players to transform themselves from zeroes to heroes.

He said, “There is of course more intensity when we play Pakistan because the game is followed by so many fans. But I see it as a good platform for the team to perform. We need to forget the past and try not to make the same mistakes. It’s been a long summer but the positive thing is that we have got used to the conditions. The boys are looking good.”

He added, “I can also proudly announce that all 15 are fit and available for selection — unless something happens between now and tomorrow.”

Dhoni also opined that he did not need to calm nerves for tomorrows’ match, explaining his players were used to appearing before huge crowds in the Indian Premier League and during other high-profile home encounters.

As per the organizers, the entire capacity of 47,000 at the refurbished Adelaide Oval was sold out within 20 minutes and millions of passionate fans across the globe will follow this Pool B match on social media.

Dhoni did not give weightage to questions asked about India’s impressive 5-0 World Cup record against Pakistan, as he believed that what mattered more was how the team played on the given day.

He explained, “All I know is that I am asked a lot of questions about the record. Look, I am not bothered about statistics because what happened in the past will count for little in what is a prized game for all. It’s nice for fans and the media to talk about it, but for us the only thing that will matter is how we play. The important thing is to plan well and execute those plans well. I don’t know if it will be an even contest. It is hard to predict such things.”

A winning start for either team will help them in getting one of the four quarter-final spots from a pool which also includes the competitive South Africa, the West Indies, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates.

It is interesting to note that in the current Indian squad, only four players — Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin and Dhoni himself – have the privilege of being the part of the winning combination four years ago.

But the basic elements of the side are the same as one which won the Champions Trophy one-day tournament in England in 2013 and finished runners-up to Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh last year.

Dhoni concluded, “There have been a lot of changes in the last four years. But the current team has played together for a long time and knows what is needed in pressure situations.”

Most of the Indian fans believe that tomorrow’s encounter is not less than a World Cup final.



    Established sports writer across various global platforms

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