The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sold out: Everything Indian
- Aware of expectations, Sourav tries to keep level head

Johannesburg, March 11: On the morning after having made the biggest semifinal of his career, Sourav Ganguly presented a must-stay-focused look.

“I’m not getting carried away nor, for that matter, any of the boys.... It’s thrilling, but we’ve only made the semifinals. We haven’t won the World Cup and life hasn’t changed,” Sourav told The Telegraph at the Intercontinental Sandton Sun & Towers.

But has pressure already begun to grow' “I’m not feeling it... In fact, now, I’m not even thinking about having made my first World Cup semifinals,” Sourav answered. Significantly, this is India’s first round-of-four entry outside the subcontinent, since winning in 1983.

Engrossed in the Australia-New Zealand game, Sourav declined to look towards the popularly projected India versus Australia final on March 23.

“It will be a mistake if we begin thinking of the final.... It has to be one match at a time. In any case, not just us, even the Australians must first qualify,” he pointed out, suggesting that the hype take a backseat till India has actually kept that March 23 date.

Sourav, though, kept making mental notes on Australia and New Zealand. After all, New Zealand is India’s immediate opponent (in the final Super Six game on Friday), while Australia ...

Besides overwhelming support from the steadily-swelling Bharat Army, the Indians are assured of the South Africans’ backing as well — specially in a face-off with Australia.

“Anybody who can beat them (the Australians) will get our support. Those guys have an attitude problem and must be brought down to earth,” insisted a middle-aged gentleman, looking for an India lapel pin at the official merchandise outlet in Sandton City. He was reflecting a common enough sentiment. As it turned out, the gentleman had to return disappointed: everything Indian is simply out of stock!

While Friday is of little relevance to India, except that it will be wonderful to extend the run of success, Sourav is preparing as he would for a do-or-die match. “A World Cup game remains just that. Moreover, it will be super to have seven wins in succession,” he remarked.

Towards that end, Sourav isn’t inclined to tinker with his combination, even though many are convinced his faith in Dinesh Mongia is somewhat misplaced. “Why should we change'” he asked, indicating that both Ajit Agarkar and Sanjay Bangar could end up doing a Sunil Valson. Not to speak of Parthiv Patel.

Barring Mongia, of course, everybody has delivered — be it Yuvraj Singh or Ashish Nehra. And, this afternoon, Nehra (MoM in Durban, against England) saluted Sourav for unstinting support.

“If a player is good, come what may, Sourav will support him.... That is great for confidence and I’ve gained from the captain’s faith,” Nehra acknowledged, adding he was looking to be quick in a disciplined manner.

For the record, discipline has been a key element in India’s march to the semifinal.

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