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All eyes on clash of champions

England and India skippers look ahead with confidence

Image Credit: AP
India's cricketer Yuvraj Singh, left, kicks a soccer ball near teammate Manoj Tiwary during a practice session ahead of their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match against England in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.
Gulf News

Colombo: Reigning champions England take on India, the first champions of the Twenty20 World Cup, at the Premadasa stadium on Sunday. The winner of this battle will gain a huge psychological advantage and could also be seen as favourites to lift the trophy this time around.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his opposite number Stuart Broad are fully aware that the result of this match can have a tremendous impact. England’s emphatic victory over Afghanistan and India’s narrow win against the same opponents have already created a debate as to which team is stronger. So Dhoni was asked whether England’s easy win over Afghanistan was a worrying factor for him.

“I think it was a good performance by England. We need to worry only about the things that we need to do and not worry about the things that the other sides are doing. There are quite a few areas we need to improve and we need to focus on that,” Dhoni said.

England captain Board was even more diplomatic when asked about India’s strength. “India have got a powerful batting line-up. We know the dangers they offer, they have played a lot of Twenty20 cricket domestically and internationally,” he said.

“You look towards the whole tournament, there’s not a weak side in it really. We have got to play good cricket all the way through to win and that won’t change on Sunday. But one thing I will say, if we play cricket like we did against Afghanistan, the way we went about things, the passion and the energy we showed in the field, we will be in a good position.”

Dhoni is delighted that the match against Afghanistan is over without any mishap, as he believes that if something went wrong it would have put his team under pressure. “When you play the lower-ranked side you have to be at your best and people expect you to win that game. If something bad happens, which has happened in the past, then you are under tremendous pressure. It is good that the Afghanistan game is out of the way and all the teams that we will play from now on will be strong sides who are doing really well,” he said.

Broad too is pleased over the win over Afghanistan, which has put his team in the next round, and particularly about his team’s splendid show in all departments of the game.

“We knew that winning would secure us a spot in the next round. We have been called slow starters before and we lost to teams like the Netherlands and Ireland in World Cup games and I would say we scraped through the group stages in the last World Cup, so it was important for us to start really well,” he said.

“The guys talked about that and, with such a good score on the board, it was important that we showed some ruthlessness and some power out there as a team. Our first ten overs were brilliant. To get the run-out and the catches that we took, we didn’t give any freebies with the ball and that showed a real strong side of our team. It is very pleasing for me as a captain.”

Dhoni is not worried about his main strike bowler Zaheer Khan’s lack of form. “We should give Zaheer equal respect like we give to Sachin Tendulkar because he is the Sachin of our bowling attack. He has led the attack in the last few years. He has been our best bowler whatever the format may be. In the last few games he may not have got the wickets, but we will continue to give him a few games because we are in a stage where we can do that,” he said.