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2011 World Cup Semifinal vs Pakistan Was Non-negotiable Game to Lose For India: Paddy Upton

Sachin Tendulkar played a sensational 85-run knock against Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup semifinal. (AFP Image)

Sachin Tendulkar played a sensational 85-run knock against Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup semifinal. (AFP Image)

Upton further suggested that the high-octane rivalry between India and Pakistan is more about the fans as the players don't share any animosity.

Former India mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton said that the 2011 World Cup semifinal against Pakistan was a non-negotiable match to win for MS Dhoni and Co. Upton, who was part of Gary Kirsten’s coaching staff at that time in the Indian set-up, said that there was an added political pressure that everybody was aware of but never spoke about it. India and Pakistan don’t have the best political relations and it is not hidden from any.

The winner of the semifinal had to stay in Taj Hotel, Mumbai where the terrorist attack happened in 2008. Upton said that it was ideal to allow Pakistan to stay at Taj which added an additional pressure on the Indian team.

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“There was an additional extraneous political pressure that nobody spoke about but everybody was acutely aware of: if India lost, Pakistan would go to Mumbai and stay at the very same Taj Hotel that was a target of the terrorist attacks. Each one of us knew the symbolism of that without having to say it. That was not really ideal to allow Pakistan to win and go to stay at Taj; it didn’t stack up on an energetic level. So, there was that additional pressure that this was to be a non-negotiable game to lose,” Upton wrote in a column for Indian Express on the 11th anniversary of India’s World Cup triumph.

However, India managed to beat Pakistan quite comprehensively by 29 runs as batting great Sachin Tendulkar played a sensational 85-run knock against a quality bowling attack.

Upton further suggested that the high-octane rivalry between India and Pakistan is more about the fans as the players don’t share any animosity.

“The fierce Indo-Pak rivalry is more about spectators; players themselves don’t have that fierceness and animosity. They know each other fairly well and get along well. Pakistan was always a very easy game for which to prepare the Indian team for as they didn’t need any extra motivation,” he added.

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Upton further talked about Tendulkar who tried to get his hands on the World Cup five times before 2011 but failed. The former mental conditioning coach opened up on the role the Master Blaster played during the tournament where several players had committed to winning the prestigious tournament for him.

“Sachin had played five World Cups. Not just immensely experienced, he was heads and shoulders above the team in terms of his accomplishments, but he was a team player. He didn’t overly speak too much in team meetings but when something needed to be said, he would say it – and when he did, which wasn’t very often, it had gravitas and players would listen. It was his last World Cup and players knew the only thing he didn’t have in his trophy cabinet was a World Cup. I know lot of players had committed to saying they want to win and gift him the World Cup. He knew that he had that support. Sachin wasn’t waiting for other players to gift him that Cup; he knew his time was going to come to do his part in bringing it home. We saw that in the innings he played,” Upton wrote.

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