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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Interview > Venkatesh Prasad

'We will come out winning against Pakistan'

February 19, 2003

Venkatesh PrasadFormer India paceman Venkatesh Prasad played a key role in India's victory over Pakistan in the 1996 World Cup match, in Bangalore.

The man, who claimed the important wicket of Aamir Sohail in that memorable encounter, is now a television commentator. He spoke to Ashish Magotra on India's chances in the World Cup.

What do you think is lacking in India's performance in this World Cup?

They need to start focusing and show more commitment. Whatever they are doing is not enough and we saw that against Holland and Australia. Australia are the best side in the world, but that is no excuse. All is not lost, yet. They have lost only to Australia and most teams can lose to Australia. If they win the next few games, they will be through.

During the game against Australia, the Indian batting line-up was exposed against the short-ball. Do you think it's a weakness other teams will also try to exploit?

Yes. That's one area the Indians will have to give a lot of thought. In the next few games we face England and Pakistan. Pakistan has a good pace attack and they will bounce the Indians. But we will come up with a strategy to counter that and we will come out winning.

A look at the Indian seam bowling options: Sanjay Bangar and Ajit Agarkar have not played yet. Do you think they should get a game?

Yes. Not because they have done anything great but because we have no options. Also Sourav Ganguly has to bat down the order. He has not been at his best for a long time and his confidence is down. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar have to open.

Do you think the Indian selectors missed a trick by opting for Parthiv Patel?

No, you need a specialist keeper. Rahul Dravid is just filling that void at the moment and doing a decent job. It gives the Indian team the option to play an extra batsman, bowler or an all-rounder.

Venkatesh Prasad
Venkatesh Prasad celebrates after taking the wicket of Pakistani batsman Aamir Sohail during the 1996 WC
India has always managed to beat Pakistan in the World Cup. You played a part in the victory against them in 1996... what do you remember about that match?

We played in Bangalore, my hometown. Pakistan started the chase by smashing the new ball to all corners of the ground. We thought we would lose with, maybe, 15 overs to spare. That's how well they were playing. It was just a matter of holding one's nerves and being mentally tough and it paid off. I was on the boundary and noticed that the crowd had gone very quiet. Their expressions showed they were stunned by the way Pakistan was playing. I thought we have to get a breakthrough. That was when I got Aamir Sohail's wicket. It was something that the team needed and we kept getting regular wickets and won easily. There is a lot of pressure playing the World Cup, and additional pressure playing Pakistan. At the end of the day, it just boils down to how strong you are mentally. And that is what this team is missing. Tendulkar, Dravid, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and, to a certain extent, Sehwag are all very talented but they have got to believe in themselves.

Do you think this team has the mental toughness to go all the way?

Well, this team has different priorities at the moment. For some reason they are too much into modeling and stuff like that. They did get a break after the New Zealand series, and from what I gather, they were busy modeling. That is the time they should have concentrated on the game. Endorsements are part of the game and they have to oblige the sponsors but not to this extent.

Do you think modeling really interferes? Modeling and cricket are too different things.

They are two completely different things. But when something exceeds the limit you are in trouble. You need to draw a line somewhere.

What do we need to do to beat Pakistan?

We have to believe in ourselves. Before Pakistan, we need to beat Zimbabwe, Namibia and England. Then the team's confidence will be high and they would have re-grouped and started believing in themselves again. If things go according to plan we should beat Pakistan.

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It was amazing that Indian cricketers did a splendid performance against England more over Venkatesh Prasad's prediction has come true, better luck for Indians against ...

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