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'Fearless' Aussies ready for Indian challenge

Last updated on: March 22, 2011 14:11 IST

'We've got no fear now'

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Australia will head into their "mini-final" quarter-final match against India with a "no-fear" attitude as the pressure of playing at home would be on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men, feels coach Tim Nielsen.

Nielsen said Australia were hoping to meet India in the final of the World Cup but now that they are clashing with the co-hosts in the quarters, Australia would be treating the Ahmedabad game as a "mini-grand final".

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"It's exciting...a mini-grand final in itself. If you came here and thought, 'What would be the best result? It would be great to make the final against India'. Well, we've got our final against India in the next few days," Nielsen said.

"I'm sure if we're on our game, they won't necessarily be looking forward to playing against us. That's something in our favour.

"The adrenaline will certainly be flowing and playing in front of their home crowd in Ahmedabad will be exciting and a challenge for us. We've got no fear now; we know we're in the knockout stage," he added.


Image: Australia's coach Tim Nielsen (left) shares a laugh with Tim Paine
Photographs: Reuters
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'The pressure's on India'

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India have not won against Australia in the World Cup since the 1987 edition. Even at home, the hosts do not have a very good record as out of 15 one-dayers in the last five years, Australia have won nine.

In the World Cup so far, Australia and India have lost a game each in the group stage.

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On Thursday both teams will meet at Motera and Nielsen feels the pressure of playing at home could get to India.

"It's (playing at home) a huge factor for them. There's some pressure there and if we can start the game well and may be quieten the crowd that will play on the mind of the Indian team," said Nielsen, remembering the pressure Australia faced when they played the World Cup at home in 1992.


Image: India's Sachin Tendulkar (left) and MS Dhoni (right) play football during a training session
Photographs: Getty Images
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'There'll be a lot of media and public scrutiny'

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Defending champions Australia are not the favourites to win the tournament this time and their unbeaten World Cup streak was also broken by Pakistan in Colombo on Saturday but Nielsen said less media glare would help them to go about their preparation quietly.

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"The media and the public scrutiny will also be so great that you'd expect India to have most of the pressure on them. They will be answering all the questions; there'll be questions about the surface we play on, there'll be questions about their line-up.

"It would be nice to think we can sneak under the radar a bit and just go about our preparation over the next few days and be as ready to go as we can be," Nielsen said.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar does an Usain Bolt impersonation during India's practice session in Ahmedabad on Tuesday
Photographs: Getty Images
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'We need to get a platform for our batting and score quickly'

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India's famed batting has crumbled in their last two games against South Africa and the West Indies.

In both matches, the top order set a solid base but their middle and lower order collapsed, losing 9 for 29 in Nagpur and seven for 50 in Chennai but Nielsen said Australia can't afford to allow India get off to a good start.

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"The importance of a quarter-final and the stature of a match will mean they (India's batsmen) are switched on. But if we can make some early inroads into their batting -- (Virender) Sehwag, (Sachin) Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and (Gautam) Gambhir have played really well for them -- we'd like to think that would be a benefit for us," he said.

Australia's batting has struggled against Pakistan when they were bundled out for 176. Skipper Ricky Ponting and all-rounder Cameron White too have been lacklustre but Nielsen said he was not bothered about individual form of players and wants one of the top four batsman to hit a big score.

"We need to get a platform for our batting to expand and score quickly. The grounds are huge, the outfields lightning fast. If you can get in, then when the ball is changed after 34 overs you've really got an opportunity to score quickly," he said.


Image: Pakistan's Abdul Razzaq (right) celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Michael Clarke
Photographs: Reuters
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