"We are here to win the WC, not only beat Pakistan"

Published: Saturday, March 1, 2003, 5:06 [IST]
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Centurion: Realising that nerves would be as important a factor as performance in the high-tension game against Pakistan on Saturday, Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly urged his teammates to keep their emotions in check when they take the field in the much-hyped match. Obviously we are going to play hard but that's one area we have to be very, very careful. It can create a lot of problems back home," Ganguly said.

Matches between the two traditional rivals have always been highly charged affairs and the fact that they are playing each other after nearly three years had given an extra edge to an already tense atmosphere. Ganguly was also mindful of the angry protests by fans back home after India made an unimpressive start to the tournament and asked his players not to do anything which will add to the volatile situation. "Considering the situation back home, we would be careful not to show too much of emotion. It could be carried back home," Ganguly said.

Previous matches between the two countries have seen emotions flaring up and players getting involved in verbal duels. The confrontation between Javed Miandad and Kiran More in 1992 and that between Aamir Sohail and Venkatesh Prasad in 1999 World Cup quarter-final at Bangalore are still vivid. Ganguly said it was very important for the players not to lose their focus and concentration, which would allow their opposition to gain the upper hand. "Pakistan is a side which could be hot one day and cold the other. We don't want to be on the wrong side.

That's why we need to be on our toes. "If we show the same intensity which we did against England, we would have done well," he said. Many of the younger members of the Indian side have never played against Pakistan and Ganguly asked them not to get too excited and put themselves under pressure. "They are very keen to play against Pakistan because they (Pakistan) have a few great names in their team. But if we start thinking it's a big game, we are putting too much pressure on ourselves.

"Of course, it's not as easy as I am saying. But you have to deal with it that way and get going. "We are here to do well in the World Cup and not just against Pakistan." Ganguly assured everyone about the fitness of Ashish Nehra, the hero of India's win against England who was nowhere to be seen at the team's practice session at the Centurion Park on Friday. "The fast bowlers have gone to the gym as they have bowled a lot lately.

They don't really need to bowl in the nets and it's better they get fit and fresh in the gym." Praising the formidable Pakistani pace attack, Ganguly paid tributes to Wasim Akram who just became the first bowler to claim 500 wickets in One-day cricket. "Wasim is a legend. I have always been a fan of his ability. His stats speak volumes about his ability. It always feels good when you score runs against him. "But we are looking at the team as a whole and not concentrating solely on any individual," Ganguly said.

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