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|June 11, 1999||
Playing for pride
India and New Zealand will make a last ditch attempt to salvage their World Cup hopes when they clash in their final Super Six match at Trent Bridge tomorrow.
Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin will go into the game already knowing whether India's slender chances of qualifying for the semi-final league are still alive. If Pakistan defeat Zimbabwe at The Oval today, India's bags will already be packed before a ball is bowled.
Azharuddin said: "I don't know whether we will be in the semi-finals or not, but I do know that we must beat New Zealand."
A final Indian victory would at least temper the disappointment of millions of their fans - and could also save Azharuddin's head.
The 36-year-old, whose leadership was slammed by critics after defeats against Zimbabwe and Australia, hit belated form with a half century against Pakistan.
"I was never worried about my form, it was just the media who were," he said, adding "I am also not worried whether I am considered a good captain or not - I have given my best at all times."
Azharuddin was pleased with the Indian bowling that had finally come good against Pakistan with Venkatesh Prasad returning a career best of five for 27 to win over Pakistan. Javagal Srinath chipped in with three for 37.
"The batting was on top at the start, now it is the bowling. My ownly worry is that we may have left it too late," the captain bemoaned.
If New Zealand misses out, they will be left cursing the rain gods. They were thrashed by 74 runs by South Africa at Edgbaston, but their key reverse could prove to be the point lost against Zimbabwe. In sight of a victory, they saw rain wash out the game.
Left arm seamer Geoff Allott, who has already set a new record of 19 wickets in a single World Cup, comes face to face with the tournament's highest run getter Rahul Dravid. Dravid had so far scored 432 runs, with two centuries and three half centuries from seven matches.
Left-hander Saurav Ganguly is second with 350 runs, his tally included the second highest score ever made in a World Cup - 183 against Sri Lanka. He skipped the last match due to an injury and is a doubtful starter for tomorrow's match.
The Kiwis must not only win, but also hope that Australia lose to South Africa 24 hours later at Headingley. That would allow Stephen Fleming's side to sneak into the semi-finals through the back door.
Fleming said: "We'll do our part. The rest is not in our hands. It's a big ask. We have got to get our batting going. It's a one-off game and it's a must-win situation. It won't be difficult to get the players up for it."
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