MELBOURNE
India are settled, in winning form and are well accustomed to Australian playing conditions for their pressure World Cup quarter-final with Bangladesh at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, batsman Suresh Raina said Wednesday. The defending champions have won all their six group matches, bowled out their opposition in the process taking 60 wickets, and are ready for the knockout rounds, starting with Thursday's quarter-final.
Raina, whose unbeaten 110 helped India chase down Zimbabwe's 288-run target for a hard-fought six-wicket win in their concluding pool game in Auckland last weekend, says the Indians are ready to "express themselves."
"We've spent a lot of time in Australia for the last four and a half months now so it's like we 're used to the conditions more than other teams," Raina told reporters. "People are really pumped up for the quarter-finals. We have done really well in the last six games. It's the quarter-final stage now, you don't have much room for error. You just need to do everything right, whether you're bowling, batting or fielding. The main World Cup is going to start tomorrow."
Ninth-ranked Bangladesh have made the quarter-finals for the first time after beating England, Scotland and Afghanistan along with a rained-out point with Australia. "You can't take Bangladesh lightly, they have done well against India, especially in the Champions Trophy and we lost against them in the 2007 World Cup and we lost against them in the Asia Cup," Raina said. "So their players have been playing a lot of cricket in the Indian Premier League. They know how to play one-day cricket now."
But Raina said it is down to India to reproduce their skills and the rest will take care of itself. "All the games in quarter-finals are going to be in pressure situations. We just need to go there and play to what we have in the dressing room," he said. "We have played a lot of matches against them and we just need to play positive cricket, we need to be more disciplined. We need to bowl well. We need to field with energy."
Raina, who believes he is a more mature cricketer after playing a limited role in India's 2011 World Cup triumph, said he is prepared to bat at number four or five in the order. "It depends on coach and captain what they are asking me to do," he said. "We always have a lot of meetings before the main games about what sort of bowling attack they have and what sort of batting I have to do with the tailenders.”
India possess the best batting lineup in world cricket and Bangladesh's bowlers will confront their biggest challenge in the World Cup quarter-final, skipper Mashrafe Mortaza said. Bangladesh, with a modest international record and ranked ninth, will have to find a way to bowl out or throttle India's confident top order right down to master innings finisher Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Bangladesh's bowlers have only dismissed two sides in the tournament, Afghanistan and England, while India have taken 60 wickets in their six pool wins. Mortaza knows the challenge ahead for his Bangladesh team if they are to bring off the biggest upset of the tournament and progress.
"Dhoni is tremendous. As a one-day batsman he's done everything he can for India the last five six years," Mortaza said. "He's a genuine matchwinner, even with Virat Kohli there. But overall I think the Indian batting order is the best in the world. It is a challenge for us. Tomorrow will be a high-scoring match on a flat pitch. We have to bowl well definitely. It is the biggest challenge to bowl to India batsmen and the Indian bowlers have been pretty good. I think we have to bat as well as we did against New Zealand or England or any other side."
Mortaza said the contemporary Bangladesh team can draw little comfort from their predecessors' revered five-wicket win over India at the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. "2007 is a long a way past. I don't think it's going to help us. Even 2011 we lost, that's not going to help us," he said. "Short version cricket depends on how you play on that particular day. We hope that we'll come out with a good plan and execute our plan well."
Thursday's sudden-death match is expected to bring cricket-mad Bangladesh to a virtual standstill, with many fans planning to watch on giant screens and millions attending match-day parties. Mortaza's side will be guaranteed legendary status back home if they can make it to the last four. "Back home all people were expecting that we could beat some bigger sides and go through.”
 That was the most pressure I think," Mortaza said.
"From tomorrow, I think the boys are very relaxed. They just want to perform on the biggest ground. They've played already on this ground. The boys are really excited. It is a very important game. In the last 15 or 17 years the people have been always with us, doesn't matter if we win or lose, they always keep supporting us," he said.