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India or wherever, Afridi is ready for the challenge

With just six matches left in the league stage and all four quarterfinal slots sealed in Group A, the teams are already training their sights on the knockout. Amol Karhadkar reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 16, 2011 23:22 IST
Amol Karhadkar

With just six matches left in the league stage and all four quarterfinal slots sealed in Group A, the teams are already training their sights on the knockout.

And with a Pakistan clash against India not ruled out as early as the quarters, leave alone the big final in Mumbai, the talk of whether the Men in Green fear playing India in their backyard has been doing the rounds.

Some former Pakistan greats, including Wasim Akram, have raised concerns, due to the political tension between the two countries.

However, skipper Shahid Afridi has no such worries. "We are here to play the World Cup. Wherever we have to play, we will go. We have no fear going to India," he said on Wednesday.

"I think a cricket match has always brought the people of both countries together and has the capacity to improve the relations between the two," he said after practice at the historic P Sara Oval.

India and Pakistan haven't toured either nation since the terror attacks in Mumbai in November, 2008. Since then, they have faced each other twice, in the Champions Trophy in South Africa in 2009 and in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka last June.

It won't come as a surprise if any hardline group threatens to prevent Pakistan from playing in India. But Afridi wasn't bothered. "Whatever is the response, we'll get to know when we go there. We've played in India in worse situations."

Having mauled the Indian bowling in ODIs and Tests and scored his maiden Test hundred in Chennai in 1999, he would have fond memories of playing in India. Afridi said coping with pressure would be vital. "But before that we have an important match against Australia and I think we have the capacity to beat them."