Johannesburg: Indian captain Saurav Ganguly and his team arrived in South Africa on Wednesday, saying they had no reservations about playing games in Zimbabwe and were ready to put the disastrous tour of New Zealand behind them.
Speaking to reporters at Johannesburg International Airport, Ganguly said his team had always enjoyed travelling to Zimbabwe. "We played there two years ago, and we were very well looked after," he said. A political furore has broken out over fixtures in South Africa's Northern neighbour, with England asking that its February 13 game in Harare be reconsidered.
The Australian team was meeting Australian cricket officials on Wednesday amid speculation that its World Cup match in the southern city of Bulawayo on February 24 might also not go ahead. Asked about India's recent poor performance in New Zealand where it was drubbed 2-0 in the Test series and lost 5-2 in the One-dayers, Ganguly said the team had just not played well. "We need to play as a unit, and everyone needs to perform.
Our poor performance in New Zealand has been a good wake-up call," the 'SAPA' news agency quoted him as saying. He predicted that India would do well in the tournament, "The boys are keen to put their heads down and work together to do well in the World Cup." Ganguly admitted his team was under enormous pressure at home in India to do well. "Cricket is huge in India and people expect a lot from us." Other teams, particularly cup favourite Australia and home-team South Africa will also come under a lot of pressure, so India was not the only team to cope with high expectations.
"You can't write any team off," Ganguly said. "It's what happens on the field during 100 overs that counts." World Cup organiser Ali Bacher welcomed the team and extended special praise to India's superstar batsman, Sachin Tendulkar. "It's my belief, that second only to Sir Donald Bradman, he will become the greatest batsman of all time," Bacher said.