Australian captain Michael Clarke on Wednesday lauded the efforts of his Indian counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni in turning things around for his team, as they wait to battle in the high-voltage cricket World Cup semi-final at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Thursday.
“They’ve played so much cricket in Australia. They’ve worked out how to take wickets. They’ve worked out how to score runs, and they’ve shown that through this tournament,” Clarke said.
“I think MS Dhoni deserves a lot of credit for the way he’s captained his team, especially being defeated in the Test series and the Tri-Series to be able to turn things around,” the right-handed batsman added.
“Obviously, they’re at the top of their game at the moment. So, we’re prepared for that. We know we’re playing against a very good team that obviously won the last World Cup. We look forward to that challenge.”
Speaking on India’s poor record at the SCG over the years, Clarke said he was surprised about the rivals’ success rate but said it was an advantage playing on the home turf.
“I thought they would have had a better success rate at the SCG than that, so that does surprise me. But it probably does show how Australia loves playing in their own backyard,” the 33-year-old said.
“It’s no different when we go to India. It’s one of the hardest places in the world to win. You take the same two teams into different conditions and things change,” he added.
“That is a part of home ground advantage. But I said at the start of this tournament that I thought India were going to be one of the toughest teams to beat.”
Asked about the Indian team looking like a very different side than what they were in the Tri-series, he said, “They look exactly the same to me. They’re just playing some really good cricket. We’ve played a lot of cricket against India.”
“We know their strengths. We know their weaknesses, and we know they’re a very good team. We have to execute our skills as well as we possibly can, and if we do that, I have confidence that we can beat any team we play against,” the Australian skipper signed off.
The winner of the contest will face New Zealand in the final on March 29 at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).