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India can live up to expectations

I remember the experience of the 2003 World Cup with packed stadiums for all of South Africa's matches and an almost overwhelming flood of messages of good luck from people we had never met.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2011 00:08 IST

I remember the experience of the 2003 World Cup with packed stadiums for all of South Africa's matches and an almost overwhelming flood of messages of good luck from people we had never met.

South Africans love their sport and they were desperate for us to do well. There was a feeling of desperation, too, with people almost pleading to win the next match and 'make the nation proud.'

There were politicians and administrators who went over the top with statements about how we were 'certain' to win the tournament and that it was our 'destiny'. They made the team sound a bit over-confident, to be honest we weren't. But it made our job that bit harder.

But whatever extra pressure we felt on home soil was nothing, I'm certain, to what India are feeling. I know many of them are superstars and are used to the spotlight but, even so, I am reminded of the 'certainty' people had that we would win eight years ago.

That same certainty exists now about India — only a hundred times stronger!

As far as we are concerned, it's another occasion to relish the challenge and enjoy the atmosphere of a packed, magnificent stadium. Personally, I would have been disappointed if we weren't in India's group. The bigger the crowd, greater the excitement.

The last couple of days have been excellent in training. All the little things, which are so important in preparation, have clicked and we're raring to go. The only upset of the week was the news that Imran Tahir has a small fracture in his left thumb.

It's only his left thumb, though, so he doesn't need it for anything! It's easy for me to joke, but there are serious medical implications. If he gets hit on the same place it could become much worse.

I'm sure India will cope with the 'extra' baggage that comes with playing a World Cup at home. My old friend Gary Kirsten was also involved in the 2003 edition so he'll be able to chat to those players who might feel the pressure. As far as we are concerned, I'm sure a packed VCA Stadium will bring out the best in us. Hawkeye Communications