Unbeaten in the tournament, with six wins in as many games, India start as firm favorites against Bangladesh, who will be playing the knockouts of a World Cup for the first time. India, however, are not taking their opponents lightly. “We are not taking Bangladesh lightly,” Suresh Raina said on the eve of the India’s Quarter Final tie at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. “Tomorrow is a big day for us. This is the quarter-final and we have to win. One mistake and you can lose.” (Also See: ICC Cricket World Cup Highlights)
Talking about the side’s preparations before the marquee clash, Raina said, “Today when we were practicing there was a sense of calm.
Everyone looked focused in the nets. We have won from this stage many times and it is important that there is that belief in the team. We know what to do when we wake up in the morning. We just need to apply ourselves, need to be disciplined and enjoy a lot on the field. The results will follow. There is belief in the team and we will play with zest tomorrow.”
On paper, India look stronger than Bangladesh with a power-packed batting line-up, a bowling attack that is hunting as a pack and a fielding unit that looks electric. But Bangladesh have reached this stage of the tournament playing a ‘fearless’ brand of cricket and would be looking to continue a similar style against India.
After all they defeated India in the 2007 World Cup and have enjoyed decent success in bilateral tournaments in the past. Raina, though, was not too keen to stress on their opponents, instead focusing on doing the right things from his own team’s perspective.
“Bangladesh have done well against us. We lost against them in 2007 and they have had success against us in the Asia Cup as well. But we are not thinking about such facts. We are looking at what we have to do tomorrow and what we have done in our league matches. We just need to play positive cricket. I think we will do well. The main World Cup is going to start for us tomorrow,” he said.
Team aside, Raina himself has been striking the right chords with the bat. He scored 75 against Afghanistan in the warm-ups, followed it up with a 74 against Pakistan and after a minor dry run, notched up a century against Zimbabwe in the previous game.
Raina is no stranger to the World Cup, having been a part of India’s victorious campaign in 2011. Gauging his own progress as a batsman, Raina said, “I have improved as a player. I have learnt a lot from MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif. They all played in the crucial middle order and I played a lot of matches with them.
“I now have an idea of the sort of batting I need to do in ODIs. I think I've become more mature after 2011, having played all big tournaments and crucial games. As a team as well we have come a long way and the credit goes to the support staff for bringing out the best from us.
“All we need to do now is be disciplined in all departments of the game, be positive and look to enjoy each and every ball from here on. I'm very excited to play quarter-final tomorrow against Bangladesh.”