New Delhi, Feb 23: He knows a thing or two about pressure as his career spanning over 15 years has been full of it. South African premier batsman Jacques Kallis strongly feels that India's so-called home advantage will be negated by the extreme pressure they are under to deliver in this World Cup.
"I don't any team starts as favorites at the moment. A lot of people are talking about India but we know how hard it is to play under pressure at home. That probably negates their home advantage," the 35-year-old all-rounder told reporters during their practice session at the Ferozeshah Kotla, ahead of South Africa's World Cup opener against the West Indies.
Kallis pointed out that consistency in countering pressure and winning matches will be key to a team's success in the tournament. "Ultimately it boils down to how you play in the group stage and once you reach the quarterfinals, semifinals, final anything can happen. I think all the teams are evenly matched. The team which plays the best game under pressure will come out on top," he added.
When questioned about South Africa's infamous "choker's tag" i.e., the tendency to lose matches from winning positions, Kallis went on the defensive. "A lot is being made in the media about the chokers tag. But we players don't even think about it. Every time the team loses people say the team has choked. But it is certainly not something which haunt us. We have a young team, 11 out of the 15 have never played in a World Cup. So it doesn't bother us. We are just worried about playing good cricket."
Asked about South Africa's chances of winning its match against the Windies on Thursday, Kallis expressed some apprehension at facing the perceivable "underdogs". "They are a dangerous side. They have got a few players who can change the game. We need to be on the top our game. You can't take any side lightly because one bad result against you can put pressure," Kallis said.
He also seemed excited with the fact that South Africa have packed their squad with three specialist spinners. "We know that the wickets are going to help the spinners. It's nice to have three quality spinners in our side.
Kallis who is the world's top-ranked allrounder with an aggregate of over 11,000 runs and a tally of 250 wickets, has recovered from a rib injury sustained during India's tour of the Rainbow Nation last year, and will feature as a key man for his side in tomorrow's match.