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Pressure Of Expectation Negates India's Home Advantage: Kallis

New Delhi, Feb 22: Perennial chokers they might be but South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis feels there is nothing called favourites in a big event like the World Cup and the huge pressure of expectation
PTI February 22, 2011 19:24 IST
PTI
New Delhi, Feb 22: Perennial chokers they might be but South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis feels there is nothing called favourites in a big event like the World Cup and the huge pressure of expectation will nullify India's home advantage in the ongoing tournament.

Kallis said in World Cup no side can afford to take its opponent lightly, and the team which handles pressure at crunch situations, will run away with the coveted trophy.

"I don't any team starts as favorites at the moment. A lot of people are talking about India but we know how hard it is to play under pressure at home. That probably negates their home advantage," the 35-year-old all-rounder told reporters during their practice session at the Feroze Shah Kotla here today.

"Ultimately it boils down to how you play in the group stage and once you reach the quarterfinals, semifinals, final anything can happen. I think all the teams are evenly matched. The team which plays the best game under pressure will come out on top," he added.

Asked about the chokers tag associated with the Proteas in ICC tournaments, Kallis said, "A lot is being made in the media about the chokers tag. But we players don't even think about it.

"Everytime the team loses people say the team has choked. But it is certainly not something which haunt us. We have a young team, 11 out of the 15 have never played in a World Cup. So it doesn't bother us. We are just worried about playing good cricket."

Kallis, who is the numero uno all-rounder in ODI cricket with 11,002 runs and 259 wickets, said he has completely recovered from his rib injury and will feature in the opening clash against the West Indies here on Thursday.

"So far everything is going according to plan. I have been bowling for about an week. I am 100 per cent fit for the match.

"In fact, most of the guys are in good condition, raring to go. The good thing is that we have all the 15 to pick from," he said.

Although South Africa boast of a good record against West Indies in recent times, the right-hander said the match is evenly-balanced and the Proteas need to be on top of their game on Thursday.

"They are a dangerous side. They have got a few players who can change the game. We need to be on the top our game. You can't take any side lightly because one bad result against you can put pressure," Kallis said.

Kallis, however, was apprehensive about the the under-fire Kotla wicket producing a high-scoring affair on Thursday.

"I haven't had a look at it as yet. I have seen it during the IPL and it wasn't too bad. Probably it's not gonna be 300-350 wicket," he said.

He also seemed excited with the fact that South Africa have packed their squad with three specialist spinners.

"We know that the wickets are going to help the spinners. It's nice to have three quality spinners in our side. I think it's an advantage.

"Certainly we haven't had a leg-spinner (Imran Tahir) in a very long time. So that brings something different. We have an off-spinner, we have a leg-spinner and the variety we got to choose from is fantastic. I think we covered all our bases," Kallis insisted.

Kallis also dismissed suggestions that South Africa may be little rusty going into Thursday's match, saying their preparation so far went of well.

"It has been a fantastic two-and-a-half weeks for us. We have already had our preparation for the game it's just the finishing touches we need to take care of.

"As far as preparation goes, we have been as well prepared as we have been in any other World Cup. The guys are in a lot more relaxed frame of mind, probably better prepared than any other World Cup," he said.

"The team has spent a lot of time together as well. Each guy knows his role in the team. That to me is a major positive. As a senior player, I am telling the youngsters to go out there and enjoy the World Cup." Kallis added. PTI