Bangalore geared up for India-Australia warm-up clash

By V.S. Karnic, IANS
Saturday, February 12, 2011

BANGALORE - A warm afternoon, chilly evening and around 50,000 spectators to cheer them on — the Indian cricket team could not have asked for a better stage to start their World Cup campaign.

This is what the famed Bangalore weather and the sporting Bangaloreans will have on offer Sunday for the Indian and Australian teams when they clash in a warm-up game ahead of the big battle that unfolds Feb 19 in Dhaka.

The Sunday game at the 50,000-seat Chinnaswamy stadium is one of the two warm-ups India will play before heading to Dhaka for their first match against co-hosts Bangladesh, who upset them in the previous edition.

The Indian team led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni wound up the four-day preparatory camp Saturday at the National Cricket Academy adjacent to the Chinnaswamy stadium.

While exuding confidence of good showing in the long tournament that ends April 2, Dhoni and his team members were cautious during their interaction with the media suggesting the hype around them should cool a bit.

Their caution was not misplaced as the 14 teams featuring in the event may still be in warming-up mood but the buildup to the event has been high-pitched.

Each team and each member has been analysed - ball by ball or stroke by stroke - their strengths praised sky-high, weaknesses thrashed and tips generously offered to better themselves or better be prepared for more bashing if the performance fails short of the hype.

Advantage of home support and home pitches have been pitched against the disadvantage of the pressure of expectation from the home crowd - a billion Indians, as is so often said when it comes to any Indian sportsperson taking part in an international competition.

Dhoni was obviously aware of the flak he and his team will face for failure and the damage the hyped build up can do to the teams performance.

He played his usual self - cool. Time to shift to preparation for better performance, he told the media at the start of the camp in Bangalore Feb 9.

May be because the build-up to the event has been so high in each of the participating country that no team, not even those which have earned notoriety for it, has played the ‘mind games’ yet.

Of course, how effective these mind-games are in demoralising a team will always remain in the realm of debate.

Still it was a pleasant surprise to see the Australians, particularly their captain Ricky Ponting, not going off with their ‘psychological warfare’ ahead of the Cup.

May be he has realised that these ‘games’ do not really bring the Ashes home and it is performance on the field with the bat and the ball that makes the team win matches.

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