Team India ready for final showdown

Rampaging form and beleaguered opponents tilt the scale pretty much in India's favour but complacency pose the most serious threat to Dhoni's team.

updated: June 16, 2008 17:13 IST
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Rampaging form and beleaguered opponents tilt the scale pretty much in India's favour but complacency, and not Pakistan, pose the most serious threat to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team in the final of the tri-series on Saturday.

With runs flowing from the top order blades and the bowling attack mowing down rival line-ups with regularity, Dhoni hardly had a reason to worry as his team bulldozed Bangladesh and pounded Pakistan with characteristic ruthlessness in two lop-sided league contests to storm into the final.

In contrast, a depleted Pakistan reached the summit showdown not before India had inflicted on them their worst defeat against the archrivals.

The 140-run thumping in fact had a ripple effect with a livid Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Nasim Ashraf shooting off a stinging e-mail to team manager Talat Ali seeking immediate explanation and questioning the team's ability, along with that of coach Geoff Lawson and the captain Shoaib Malik.

And with Ashraf set to attend Saturday's final, Malik and his teammates would surely feel the heat.

In contrast, Dhoni's team has hardly put a foot wrong since their arrival here and the India captain said he was expecting the openers and new ball bowlers to give the side a good start.

"I am really happy about the team performance. We have played two matches and in both ties, we had good starts both in batting and bowling. I wish the same kind of performance continues in the final against Pakistan also," Dhoni said.

Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been firing on all cylinders, continuing exactly from where they had left it in the Indian Premier League. They put on 155 runs for the opening stand against Pakistan and added 85 last night against the hosts to provide the perfect start and the brisk rate in which they scored allow the subsequent batsmen to get their eyes in before sending the opponents on a leather-hunt.

New ball bowlers, especially Praveen Kumar, has shown a penchant to draw the first blood and peg back the opponents to the back foot, while RP Singh too is among wickets.

Piyush Chawla too ran through Pakistan middle order with his guile and there is no reason why the young leggie cannot do an encore on Saturday.

Dhoni, meanwhile, is taking nothing for granted and is insisting on focussing on the process, rather than guessing the outcome.

"Let's not think about the result but we should win the game as we have been doing so often. Every game is a fresh game and we need to carry on the momentum to some, even though you always start afresh. We have to repeat all the good work that we have done in the last two matches," he said.

"Of course we will be carrying our confidence but you have to start from the scratch again in the final. It is all about playing the game to your potential and to your strength. That is what is important rather thinking about beating the rivals," Dhoni added.

He also seemed oblivious of the hype that generally surrounds an Indo-Pak tie.

"The final against Pakistan is just another game. We are going to play them for the second time. The team wants to play a good game of cricket and we would like to give our best tomorrow," Dhoni said.