Australia treating India clash as 'mini-grand final'

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The Independent Online

Australia coach Tim Nielsen claims his side are treating Thursday's World Cup quarter-final against India as a 'mini-grand final'.

The defending champions saw their 35-match unbeaten streak in World Cup competition come to an end after going down to Pakistan on Saturday, but still managed to finish third in Group A to set up a showdown with co-hosts India.

Many would have tipped Australia and India to meet later in the competition but Nielsen feels the atmosphere in Ahmedabad will be like a final.

"The adrenaline will certainly be flowing and playing in front of their home crowd in Ahmedabad will be exciting and a challenge for us," Nielsen said. "We've got no fear now; we know we're in the knockout stage.

"It's exciting ... a mini-grand final in itself. If you came here and thought, 'What would be the best result? It would be great to make the final against India'. Well, we've got our final against India in the next few days.

"I'm sure if we're on our game, they won't necessarily be looking forward to playing against us. That's something in our favour."

India's much-vaunted batting line-up has shown signs of frailty in recent matches, with collapses against South Africa and West Indies ruining their chances of topping Group A.

And Nielsen said the pressure of playing in front of their home crowd may only further exacerbate India's problems.

"It's (playing at home) a huge factor for them. There's some pressure there and if we can start the game well and maybe quieten the crowd that will play on the mind of the Indian team," Nielsen said.

"The media and the public scrutiny will also be so great that you'd expect India to have most of the pressure on them."

Australia have beaten India in seven out of nine World Cup matches, and Nielsen said the key to another victory would be containing the hosts' potent top-order.

"The importance of a quarter-final and the stature of a match will mean they are switched on," Nielsen said.

"But if we can make some early inroads into their batting - (Virender) Sehwag, (Sachin) Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and (Gautam) Gambhir have played really well for them - we'd like to think that would be a benefit for us."