Our pacemen are outstanding

Published on Mar 14, 2003 02:56 AM IST

We are through to the semi-final stage of the World Cup. However, Friday's game against New Zealand at Centurion is extremely important for us, and not only because we played poorly against them in their backyard.

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PTI | BySourav Ganguly, Centurion

We are through to the semi-final stage of the World Cup. However, Friday's game against New Zealand at Centurion is extremely important for us, and not only because we played poorly against them in their backyard.

A win here against the Kiwis will put them out of the competition. This will leave Sri Lanka with a game against Zimbabwe and if they win that tie, it will take them into the semi-finals --- which means the Australians will have the right opponent to contend with in Port Elizabeth.

Looking at the conditions in Port Elizabeth, I feel Sri Lanka are better equipped (than New Zealand) to challenge Australia. The wicket in Port Elizabeth provides considerable amount of spin and the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan and Aravinda de Silva could be very handy. It's a wicket that will provide the opposition an opportunity to get Australia out.

The wicket at Centurion seems to be another belter. It is generally a bit damp in the morning but becomes flat as the day progresses. It was a high scoring affair against Pakistan. They have a superb bowling attack but we got to the target with ease. The outfield is fast and not the biggest here, so it should provide a good platform for the batsmen to put runs on the board.

We played very well against Sri Lanka. They made a mistake with the toss as they should have batted first, because it was a pressure game. It was good to see Veeru (Sehwag) apply himself so well --- it is important for him to concentrate if he has to score runs outside the subcontinent.

Sachin continued his great form and so did the rest of the lads. Our fielding was outstanding and so was the intensity. We are in a great position in this World Cup but the real action has started now. These are the most crucial ten days of our lives. It's important to keep working hard as we have done since the time we landed in South Africa.

Kenya have created history, becoming the first non-Test playing nation to qualify for the World Cup semi-final, and they play against us now.

I have received a lot of messages telling us we are already in the final. But let me tell you, we have to play very, very well against the Kenyans to reach there because the Kenyans are not under any pressure.

The Kenyans have already achieved more than they expected. The form of our fast bowlers has been outstanding in this Cup. They have bowled with pace and aggression and Ashish Nehra is the most improved cricketer in recent times. He has looked like picking a wicket every time he has come on to bowl. May he continue in the same vein!

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