Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Current form, records, past experience and conditions give India an advantage in today's crucial semifinal match of the ICC World Twenty20 and that is the reason there was no fear factor for the Indian side.
“Most of these guys were involved in the ICC Champions Trophy, so that is one experience everybody can draw from. Apart from that, the one thing that the young side will have an advantage over the other teams is that we don't have any baggage,” said Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in a pre-match press conference at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday, an important component of which was the declaration that left-hander Yuvraj Singh is fit.
“We've not lost many big competitions; there will be no scars with us. We have nothing to lose. We never walked into this tournament as favourites, and we wouldn't want to be tagged as favourites. We just go in and enjoy ourselves,” continued the lanky spinner.
Because of the nature of the shortest version of the format Ashwin was not ready to write off any team though they are in tremendous form but he admitted that playing all the matches in the same venue is an advantage for them as South Africa played all their group matches at Chittagong.
“We know what to expect from this ground and the pitch, but of course when it comes down to the semifinals it's anybody's game. You can't really say we hold a majority; whoever plays well on that particular day will have the advantage. But yes, we do hold an advantage having played so many games here. We know what to expect,” he explained.
Spinners have emerged as key performers in the tournament, which is why South Africa invited legendary leg-spinner turned commentator Shane Warne to their tent to help Imran Tahir but Ashwin was not too worried about any impact the assistance may have.
He also said that they were not in a mood to think about the chance of a third trophy after the 50-over World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy last year.
“We've never been a team that's believed in talking about all these things, because it's only going to make things tougher for you. I'm not a firm believer in it, but four teams in the semifinal, everybody has a 25 per cent chance. That's the numbers game,” he said when asked about the third trophy.
Many might have given an edge when it comes to compare the spin bowling of India and South Africa, which many believe can separate the teams in the semifinal. Ashwin however thought that there is a very small margin between the quality of spinners.
“When it comes to international cricket, there's a very small margin between the qualities of spinners. Everybody's bound to have a certain amount of quality in them. It's all about the mental makeup of the spinner and what amount of guts he has in that particular scenario. It'll be handling pressure that makes the difference, because Imran Tahir has been in top form. And I expect Phangiso to play. When that happens, you're pretty much evened out on the amount of spinners both teams will play. It comes down to how well your spinners handle it,” he said about the spin battle.