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World Cup: ‘India vs Pakistan a huge game – always was, always will be’
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LWherever the Indian team plays, the pressure is always high. But playing a Cup at home comes with an unbelievable level of expectations. Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly is well aware of the weight of expectations on the Men in Blue for the showpiece event, but he also backed Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid to pull off the job.
The former BCCI president backed the Indian skipper as the right man for the job.
Speaking on the Backstage With Boria show, Ganguly said, “ will always be favourites on home soil. They have a very good side and if the fitness of the players are on track, they will always have a very good chance in home conditions.
“It will depend on how they play during the tournament and how the fast bowlers perform but that's for everyone so as I said, India in home conditions will always have a strong chance,” said the former Indian cricketer.
Talking about the marquee India-Pakistan clash set to be held in Ahmedabad, Ganguly said despite it being a huge match, the players will need to focus and not let the hype get to them.
“It is a huge game. Always was and always will be. You have realised how important it is in the context of the World Cup. I used to treat it very much like an India Australia, India South Africa contest.
“I used to get into the mindset that it is still the red ball or the white ball you are up against and prepare myself like that. You can't let the occasion get to you because that's when you tend to lose focus,” stated Ganguly.

‘Playing India in India is very different'
The former Indian skipper further added that the players say it's just another game to take the pressure off.
“No it's not just another game. You have to prepare yourself that way. That's how you manage pressure. Some manage and some don't manage. In my tenure we had a great record against Pakistan but this time round it will be a more competitive game.
“Last year after Pakistan beat India in Dubai things have changed. Pakistan is also a very good side and it is amazing how they keep churning out extraordinary talent. But playing India in India, playing India in Ahmedabad and playing India in front of 110,000 fans is very different thing.”

‘First play well to get to the final'
Meanwhile, the former BCCI chief said it the team should focus on doing well in the group stage games before thinking of the final.
“You won't win all finals. But then you need to make it to the final first. So you need to break things down. First you need to play well and win the majority of the nine games to be able to make the final.
“Don't think about the final at the start of the tournament. It is much like batting. When you go into bat don't think of the 100. Get to 50, 60, 70 and then when you get to 90 that's when you think of the 100. For the World Cup it is the same. First play well and get to the final. Once you are there that's when you plan for the final and try and win it.

‘Virat will be India's go to man'
Talking about India's batters, Ganguly backed Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill to be the Men in Blues' lead batters for the World Cup.
“Virat is playing very well. He has looked very good in the last few months and is batting extremely well and will be India's go to man along with Rohit Sharma. Rohit as captain is playing his first and last World Cup.

“I am speaking about the 50-over World Cup here which will come after 4 years. He could play T20 but this is a different format. And he too has a superb record in world cups. Five hundred in the last World Cup where he was brilliant. Finally, it is Shubman Gill who has that class to stand up and win matches for India. Each of them will have to stand up if India has to win the tournament.”

‘Must convince Hardik to play Tests'
Meanwhile, Ganguly backed all-rounder Hardik Pandya to be India's game-changer. “I keep saying this – the coach, captain, selectors must convince Hardik Pandya to play Test . His bowling might not be required in India but away from home, it balances the side out. He must play Test cricket away from home and bowl 10 overs a day. Hardik Pandya is very very important for India.”

‘Do not chop and change'
India's experimental method has seen the team management come under heavy criticism. The former skipper believes the team should have a settled line-up.
“We had a settled combination. That's the most important thing. We were a very good team by then and had started winning. We were on song. We had some fantastic players. That's why I keep saying don't chop and change ahead of a major tournament.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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