Everyone is pumped up for 'prized' India-Pak game: Dhoni
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday urged his team to forget their losing streak in Australia as they prepared for a World Cup opener against arch-rivals Pakistan.WorldCup2015 Updated: Feb 14, 2015 15:13 IST
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday urged his team to forget their losing streak in Australia as they prepared for a World Cup opener against arch-rivals Pakistan.
The defending champions have endured a miserable three months on tour in Australia where they were beaten 2-0 in the Tests and did not win a match in the subsequent tri-series.
But Dhoni said that Sunday's high-voltage clash against Pakistan, which he described as a "prized game" on the cricket calendar, was an opportunity for players to transform themselves from zeroes to heroes.
"There is of course more intensity when we play Pakistan because the game is followed by so many fans," the Indian captain said. "But I see it as a good platform for the team to perform.
"We need to forget the past and try not to make the same mistakes. It's been a long summer but the positive thing is that we have got used to the conditions. The boys are looking good.
"I can also proudly announce that all 15 are fit and available for selection -- unless something happens between now and tomorrow."
Dhoni said he did not need to calm nerves ahead of the key encounter, explaining his players were used to appearing before huge crowds in the Indian Premier League and during other high-profile home games.
A sell-out crowd of 47,000 at the refurbished Adelaide Oval and millions of passionate fans across the world will follow the Pool B match which organisers said was sold out in 20 minutes.
Dhoni played down repeated questions about India's impressive 5-0 record World Cup record against Pakistan, saying what mattered more was how the team played on the given day.
"All I know is that I am asked a lot of questions about the record," he said. "Look, I am not bothered about statistics because what happened in the past will count for little in what is a prized game for all.
"It's nice for fans and the media to talk about it, but for us the only thing that will matter is how we play.
"The important thing is to plan well and execute those plans well. I don't know if it will be an even contest. It is hard to predict such things."
A winning start for either team will boost their hopes of taking one of the four quarter-final spots from a pool which also includes the impressive South Africa, the West Indies, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates.
The current Indian squad has just four players -- Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin and Dhoni himself -- who were involved in the winning combination four years ago.
But the nucleus of the side is the same as that which won the Champions Trophy one-day tournament in England in 2013 and finished runners-up to Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh last year.
"There have been a lot of changes in the last four years," said Dhoni. "But the current team has played together for a long time and knows what is needed in pressure situations."