No added pressure against Pak, its just another game

Published: Friday, February 28, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Centurion: Indian captain Saurav Ganguly insists his side was under no pressure playing arch rival Pakistan in the World Cup on Saturday, saying it was just another game. I am not feeling any more responsible than I already am, because it is a game after all," Ganguly said on Friday of the high-profile match at the SuperSport Park. "It's just like playing against Zimbabwe, Australia, England or any other side."

Ganguly refused to talk of the political differences between the two warring neighbours, preferring to concentrate on the task at hand. "Our approach will be the same. Pakistan tends to blow hot one day and cold the other. And we don't want to be caught on the wrong side," he said. Ganguly said it was a big game for millions of fans in both countries and hoped the teams did not raise passions by any on-field gestures.

"I think we all have to be careful about how we behave on the field," he said. "This is one area we have to think hard and not show any sentiments out in the middle." The Indian captain said Pakistan was a very good side, but he had a "higher regard for Australia and South Africa. I just hope we can keep the intensity we have shown over the last three games. The aim is to go further in the tournament." India, with 16 points from five matches, will qualify for the Super Sixes if it wins.

Even a defeat will see it through if England loses, as expected, to reigning champions Australia on Sunday. "We have a 3-0 World Cup record against Pakistan and that makes us confident for the match," Ganguly said. Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid said a victory against Pakistan was very important in the context of the tournament. "It's an eight-point game for us," he said.

Teams making the Super Sixes will carry forward points against the other qualifiers from the group and one point against the non-qualifiers. "It's a great challenge batting against the Pakistani attack which is very experienced," the reliable middle- order batsman said. "You always want to compete and do well against the best."

Asked if the match would help in improving India-Pakistan relations, Dravid said, "It is not the duty of the cricketers to take a stance or make a statement. We are on the field to play cricket." "It is better we are not playing at home because we are away from the pressure of the fans and media."

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