Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said that India will be the team under pressure when the arch-rivals clash in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
Pakistan beat West Indies by a thumping 10-wicket margin while India prevailed over defending champions Australia in a close encounter in their quarter-finals to set up a high-profile battle for the April 2 final.
“It’s all about handling the pressure well,” said Afridi. “Whoever does well in that situation will prevail. India will feel it a little bit more than us due to their home conditions. With the crowd cheering every ball, the hosts can be overwhelmed.”
Afridi, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 21 scalps in seven matches, added that his team had ample time to prepare for the last-four game. A strategy will be formed to counter the Indians, said the all-rounder.
“Every Pakistan-India match is a high-profile one. But the World Cup and a semi-final: it doesn’t get bigger. The crowd has huge expectations. We will form a strategy after we start training and try to overcome our weaknesses so that we can give India a tough time.”
History, however, favours India who have never lost a World Cup match to Pakistan and also won the last game the two teams played, in the Asia Cup last year. Afridi, nevertheless, dismissed concerns and said history counts for little when these two teams set foot on the cricket ground.
“We’ve hit a purple patch and so have India. It’s going to be a good game,” said the 31-year-old.
‘Tendulkar will have to wait’
Meanwhile, the captain sounded confident about not letting the Indian legend reach his 100th century. The batting maestro has a total of 99 hundreds, in Tests and One-Day Internationals, and is aiming to reach three figures of centuries in the World Cup.
“He will have to wait till after the World Cup to reach the landmark. We will try and make sure no batsman plays a long innings.”
He said the team will start training today after arriving in Chandigarh yesterday amidst VIP security.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2011.