INDIA has lit the fuse for an explosive Adelaide grudge-match – maintaining its mental hold over Pakistan and big game record will prevail in their World Cup opener on Sunday.
Brilliant opener Rohit Sharma, 27, says the heat is on Pakistan as it attempts to break its World Cup drought against the champion.
“We know what we have to do to be at our best. The pressure will be on them rather than us. They are the ones who have not won a game against us in the World Cup,” said Rohit despite Pakistan winning the 1992 showpiece in Australia.
“We will try and use it to our advantage.”
India lost 2-1 at home to Pakistan two years ago and by one wicket in their Asia clash showdown at Dhaka last March where Rohit (56) contributed a half century.
However India crushed Pakistan by eight wickets in their rain affected Champions Trophy meeting in June 2013. Middle-order batsman Suresh Raina believes the emphatic result provides impetus tomorrow and proof of India’s penchant for the grand occasion.
“We have done well against them in the World Cup. All the youngsters have done well in the Champions Trophy, we played against them in Birmingham and that is still fresh in our mind,” said Raina of 1983 World Cup winner India.
Rohit blasted a record one-day score of 264 against Sri Lanka in November at Kolkata but is desperate for first-up success against Pakistan having been overlooked for India’s 2011 World Cup triumph on home soil.
“This will be my first World Cup and I was very disappointed to miss the last one so I want to make this one count,” said Rohit with six tons in 127 one-day starts since 2007 for India.
“I am looking forward to it and hope we eventually come out where we want to be. The first one is Pakistan which is important and then we will look forward.”
India endured a miserable win-less streak through the Test and one-day tri-series this summer. The World Cup is now, happily, India’s solitary focus.
“It is incredible, my first World Cup and against the Pakistanis. We have to concentrate on the process rather than think about India v Pakistan and the result will take care of itself,” said Rohit.
Australian skipper Michael Clarke’s struggle with hamstring issues are well documented. Rohit noted his own battle with fitness after striking 138 against Australia in Melbourne a month ago.
“I am good to go, I had issues with my hamstring but have worked on it,” said Rohit who blasted 150 against Afghanistan in Adelaide on Tuesday.
A highly anticipated World Cup meeting between the estranged Asian neighbours is expected to break television audience records.
The enmity between the rivals is always close to the surface with Raina allegedly tweeting “Bye Bye Pakistan” after Pakistan lost to Sri Lanka at the 2012 World Twenty20.
The men in blue will be spurred by massive Indian backing in the sold-out, 50,000 crowd.
“We will use the crowd support to our advantage and when they go back they should go happy,” said Rohit
Originally published as Sharma stokes flames for Adelaide grudge match