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Proteas prepare for Eden Gardens pressure cooker

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South Africa are about to experience World Cup pressure in its truest form as India’s ‘Blue Army’ will fill Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Sunday.

South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen says the team won’t be implementing too many changes in their preparation, mentality and game plans despite India being a class above the rest. Picture: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE, AFP

THE PROTEAS are quietly confident going into their final task of the week – playing India – after beating New Zealand in Pune a few days ago.

The South African team is currently functioning like a well-oiled machine at the Cricket World Cup, with each player contributing to the success of the team in their own unique way.

They face India on Sunday (10.30am SA time start) in a top-of-the-table clash.

South Africa are about to experience World Cup pressure in its truest form as India’s ‘Blue Army’ will fill Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Sunday.

‘Playing India is massive’

In-form Proteas batter Rassie van der Dussen emphasised the team’s awareness of the magnitude of the occasion of playing India in a World Cup on home soil.

“Obviously, playing India in India is a massive event,” said Van der Dussen.

“They’ve been playing really well. A lot of experience in their team. They’ve got all bases covered – brilliant bowling attack, and obviously the batting as well.”

According to South Africa’s No.3 batter, who scored a superb 133 against New Zealand on Wednesday, they won’t be implementing too many changes in their preparation, mentality and game plans despite India being a class above the rest.

The recipe remains uniform for the Proteas – continue being positive, while being calculative in every decision taken out in the middle, and focus on the team’s strengths instead of the opposition.

The major factor that will come into play on Sunday is how both teams handle the pressure of playing in front of over 60,000 fans at Eden Gardens and millions around the world.

‘Focussing on how we want to play’

“I think what we’ve done really well in this campaign is we’re really just focusing on what we want to do and how we want to play,” said Van der Dussen.

“In our match-review meetings, we keep looking at the numbers with the coaches – and so far in this tournament, by most metrics, we’re stacking up pretty well.

“We’ll go into that (India) game knowing that if we do the things the way that we want, we’ll be in a really strong position. So, at the end of the day, it’s almost irrelevant who’s in front of you.

“We know if we play the way we want to play and execute how we want to – and take the correct options, especially under pressure – then the result is a by-product of that.

“The challenge is under pressure, to stay with that, and that’s what we’ll look to do.

“But we’ve played them here before and we’ve beaten them here before. So, in a sense, even though it’s a World Cup, it’s not really too much different. We won’t be looking at that too much.”

India pace attack looking ominous

India’s pace attack dismantled Sri Lanka on Thursday, bowling them out for just 55 to push India back to the all-too-familiar top spot with just two rounds of matches remaining in the group stage.

The thought of watching that Indian attack going head-to-head with the in-form Proteas batting unit is mouth-watering.

But most importantly, regardless of the result, Sunday’s match will do both teams a world of good as two of the best teams in the tournament will finally play each other.

And having virtually qualified for the semi-finals, both teams will get a better idea of what and where they need to improve going into the semi-finals and finals.

@imongamagcwabe

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