AFP/Leeds, United Kingdom
Dinesh Karthik insists India won’t take it easy in their last World Cup group match against Sri Lanka today because the title contenders want to go into the semi-finals on a high. Virat Kohli’s side have won six of their eight group games after beating Bangladesh in their previous outing to seal a semi-final berth.
Rather than rest on their laurels, India batsman Karthik, who made his World Cup debut against Bangladesh, is adamant the team plan to fine-tune their game at Headingley this weekend.
“For all the four teams that qualify, it’s going to be a massive game (the semi-finals).So that’s in the back of the mind,” Karthik said yesterday. “But having said that, I think we’re professional enough to go out there against Sri Lanka and play a very clinical game.
“ There is scope for improvement in all aspects of our game. We’ve been playing a good tournament until now, but I’m sure personally each player would have some box to tick.”
Defending champions Australia, two-time winners India and England and New Zealand have booked their semi-final places ahead of today’s last group games. India, who are second in a table currently topped by Australia, need to beat Sri Lanka to leapfrog Aaron Finch’s side.
They also need help from eliminated South Africa, who would have to beat Australia later today at Old Trafford for India to end in top spot. Karthik insisted India, who will take on either New Zealand at Old Trafford on Tuesday or England two days later, have no preference for their semi-final opponent.
“It’s hard for me to say, obviously, which team will be a threat. But on any given day any team can stand up. And that’s the beauty of a tournament like a World Cup,” Karthik said. “We’re really looking forward to it as a team. At the same time, I think we have a game to play in Leeds. We’ll do the best we can tomorrow.”
India’s middle order has faced flak for going slow in the final half of the innings in recent matches, with Karthik included in the line-up in place of underfire Kedar Jadhav for the Bangladesh game. Karthik, a wicketkeeper-batsman who bats at number seven, said adapting to conditions is key on English wickets.
“Obviously, it depends first thing on the conditions. And also it depends a little bit on how many batsmen you have behind you,” he said. “When I go in at No 7, I need to judge this — assess the situation of the game and then play accordingly.”
Teams have rarely been able to chase down scores of over 250 in this World Cup, but Karthik insists India are equipped to handle any possibility that comes their way. “I think we as a team believe that we’re good chasers, because that’s what we do day in, day out,” he said.
“And we’re a team that actually has the ability to handle pressure very well. We’d back ourselves to chase and get the totals that we believe we can achieve.”
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