India ready for Pakistan challenge: MS Dhoni

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, seen here on March 23, said his team was ready to take on bitter rivals Pakistan after surviving a high-pressure game against Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals

Ahmedabad: Mar 25, 2011


Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his team was ready to take on bitter rivals Pakistan after surviving a high-pressure game against Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals.


Chasing a target of 261, Dhoni’s men appeared to be in trouble at 187-5 in the 38th over but Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina carried the team to a five-wicket win with 14 balls to spare at the packed Sardar Patel Stadium.


“We needed 70-odd runs and our last batting pair was at the crease,” said Dhoni. “It basically meant if we played 50 overs with Yuvraj and Raina, we would make it. “There was pressure but more than the technical or skill part, it was about managing the pressure.”


With India running into Pakistan in the last-four, Dhoni said the pressure will only go up by several notches on his team.


“India vs Pakistan in semi-finals — it doesn’t get better. A World Cup hosted by the sub-continental nations and India and Pakistan making it to the semis. There will be more pressure on the Indian side and it will be from outside. People will say ‘win the semis, we don’t care about the final’.


“But the reality is every game is the same for us irrespective of whether it is Australia or Pakistan. It is a big part and parcel of the game in India. It is a tough job but Indian cricketers have been managing this quite well.”


Dhoni said the team opted to go for Raina ahead of the dropped Yusuf Pathan because he was technically more sound.


“Yusuf at number seven was going for runs, but Raina is technically more sound and we were keen on batting 50 overs. That’s why we went with Raina, but we know Yusuf can be really dangerous.”


Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, who made 104, credited Yuvraj and Raina for the win. “We needed more wickets in the middle of the innings,” he said. “With 15 overs to go, it was touch and go, but Yuvraj and Raina played really well. It’s disappointing to bow out, we are a better team than we have played.”


Yuvraj, named man of the match for the fourth time in the tournament, said he concentrated on playing the balls on merit rather than go for flashy shots. “When Dhoni got out, I knew we still had Raina to come, and thought if we can add 40 odd runs it would be good,” said the burly left-hander.


“I was hitting the ball down the ground. I was batting on instinct. I knew that I have to stay till the end and win the match for the country. I have gone through a tough year, but coming into the World Cup, getting that 50 against England, it was good. As for today’s game, 260 was a good score, Ponting batted outstandingly but we chased well.”