Pakistanis start mind games, Indians stay mum
Mohali: Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi and speedster Umar Gul on Monday tried to up the ante ahead of the big semi-final match against India, saying their side was primed to end the four-match losing streak against their arch-rivals in the World Cup.
However, India continued to keep a low profile ahead of the match, which is being tipped as the mother of all battles, as there were no comments from the side. India cruised into the semis after beating defending champions Australia at Motera that virtually ended the dominant era of the Aussies. Cricket fans across the country are waiting for a 100 from Sachin Tendulkar, who is just one ton short of completing 100 international centuries.
Pak pacer Umar Gul said his side will look to rip through the home side`s much vaunted top order to stop them on their tracks. "Their (India`s) batting line-up is very strong but our bowling is very good and equally up to the task. (Skipper Shahid) Afridi is the leading wicket-taker. We have a bit of an advantage with our bowling but I am happy with the way the batsmen played in the quarterfinal," Gul said.
"The first three wickets (of India) are very crucial for us. They (India) are depending on the top-three. I am in good form and am looking for these three wickets," said Gul, who has taken 14 wickets so far in the tournament, when asked about the plans of his team to tackle the explosive opening duo of Tendulkar and Sehwag.
"Whether it is a knockout match or a league match, any match against India is a big match always, a high-pressure match. The last time we played here, we chased 327 but it depends on how the wicket behaves. The average good score here will be 270-280," he said.
Meanwhile, skipper Afridi accused the Indian media of negative campaign against his team and has advised his players not to watch any news or talk show related to their match to avoid distraction.
"The media here has created quite a hype around our World Cup semifinal against India but I`m not watching it. Whenever they start flashing some story about the match, I just change the channel and go to something else. I have no time for it," Afridi said.
"There is no war. It`s a big cricket match for both the teams and I want to just focus on it."
"I`ve asked all the players to avoid watching news or discussions on TV shows and bulletins. It might distract them," the dashing all-rounder added.
Pakistan`s Misbah-ul-Haq too, while taking a dig at India, and particularly Sachin Tendulkar, suggested it wasn`t necessary to notch up tons to win games. "As a team it is important to win first," he said. "We have no centuries but if we go back home with the Cup we will be very, very happy. Nice cameos are sometimes more effective if everyone is contributing."