Beating India in their own backyard is the ultimate challenge and the boys are up for the knockout battle against the hosts in the ICC World Twenty20 in Mohali on Sunday, said Australian all-rounder Shane Watson. (STATS || POINTS TABLE || FIXTURES)
Australia knocked Pakistan out of the tournament on Friday, setting up a virtual quarterfinal against India at the I S Bindra Stadium. Watson said it is good that his team doesn’t have to worry about the run rate anymore as it is a winner takes all affair.
“Look, I have played in games where a lot was dependant on run rate and sometimes we missed out because of it. So it is good that it has come down to winning the match with a simple equation. We know we have to be at our best to beat India. They are an incredible team.
Especially in Indian conditions, it is going to be a huge challenge for us,” said Watson, who will retire from international cricket at the end of the tournament.
“For my personal perspective, knowing that it could be my last international match, it is certainly a huge game. The good thing is that we played well against Pakistan here.”
Acknowledging that the home team has not played to its potential so far, Watson said playing India is always a huge challenge.
“Well it would have been nice if Bangladesh held their nerve a little bit better (against India). That way we would not have to worry so much about the game tomorrow. Look, it is the ultimate challenge in any format, to play India in India. If you can beat them on Indian soil, it is an incredible achievement.
“All the players know that and I certainly know for sure, having plenty of experiences of playing in India.”
On India’s performance in the tournament so far, Watson said: “It is right that they have not clicked so far but the conditions have been extreme. Any team would struggle in that scenario. The ball is turning huge amount, as much I have seen a in a T20 game, whether it was in Nagpur or Eden Gardens.
“In Mohali, it doesn’t turn that much but they have skillful batsmen and bowlers. All of a sudden their team can click and when that happens they are almost an unbeatable team,” said a wary Watson.
For the great all-rounder Watson, the game will be about which team handles pressure better.
“In big games, it is about your mental approach more than anything else. The biggest challenge is to hold your nerve when the pressure comes on, which is certainly going to happen in knock-out games. Quite a lot of people follow the sport in India than our team back home. So the expectations are more from them. Both teams want to win such a big tournament. We did that in the World Cup last year, so did India in 2011. It is going to be a great game,” predicted Watson.
He was also reminded about the team’s 0-3 loss to India at home in January.
“We have got a very different team compared to the one in that series. For us to be able to click against Pakistan is a great thing. They (India) certainly have a more settled team and all the players know their roles.”
Heaping praise on Virat Kohli, Watson feels it is must for Australia to get him out cheaply.
“Well, we have a tried a few different things (against him) which has not worked. We thought it would work but he goes about his business without any fuss. We have also gone hard at him at times. It affected him for two balls and then I dropped him at the slips,” said a witty Watson.
“He knows his game way too well. We have to try to get him out earlier because once he gets in, he certainly knows how to put pressure on the bowlers.”
Watson also expects the contest to be a heated affair, as it has been the case of late.
“Things have heated up in the past. It means so much to the Indian players and for us. Things can heat up easily in games like these,” he reckoned.