India batsman Suresh Raina has backed his team to handle the pressure as overwhelming favorites against Bangladesh in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The defending champions sauntered through the group stage with six wins from their six matches, but now head into the knockout format knowing there is no margin for error if they are to retain their trophy.
Top spot in Pool B has earned Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side a meeting with the lowest ranked team remaining in the competition, after Bangladesh upset England in their group. It means the weight of expectation is on India’s shoulders heading into the match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. But Raina is relishing the competition reaching its business end.
“I think all the matches in the quarterfinals of a World Cup are going to be pressure situations,” he said at a pre-match press conference. “We need to just go there and play to what we have in the dressing room. We have played a lot of matches against them. We need to play positive cricket and do proper process in bowling, batting and fielding. The main World Cup is going to start tomorrow for us.”
Raina hit a century as India rounded out the group stage with a victory over Zimbabwe, continuing the impressive performance by a batting lineup led by the runs of Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan. Raina has also taken a wicket with the ball and has been an occasional part of a bowling attack that has defied low expectations so far in Australia and New Zealand.
Certainly on paper they would appear to have far too much strength for Bangladesh. But, while India have unsurprisingly dominated the rivalry in one-day internationals, losing just three of their 28 matches, they have tasted some notable losses. By far the most significant was a shock loss in the 2007 World Cup that effectively saw Bangladesh progress through the group stage at India’s expense. Bangladesh also came out on top in the 2012 Asia Cup.
“You can’t take Bangladesh lightly, they have done well against India especially in the ICC Trophy,” Raina said. “We lost against them in 2007, at the same we lost against them in the Asia cup. They’ve been playing in the IPL and they have a big tournament in Bangladesh, the BPL, so they know how to play one-day cricket now. We need to know our strengths, we need to go there and express ourselves.”
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza has particularly fond memories of that win in 2007, having taken four wickets. But he does not believe that famous result will play a part in the outcome on Thursday, saying “2007 is a long way in the past, it isn’t going to help us.”
As well as taking on an in-form India team, Bangladesh will also have to contend with a MCG likely to be dominated by Indian supporters. Mashrafe, though, is confident his side will be able to focus on events on the pitch.
“We know that 95,000 people will come to the ground and most of them will be Indian supporters, but as a professional cricketer I have to concentrate on cricket so we have to handle it,” he said. “Obviously, Bangladesh supporters will be there so we cannot ask for equal but hopefully we'll be fine.”
Math time: Thursday, 2:30 p.m. local time, Wednesday, 11:30 p.m. EDT.
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