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India vs Sri Lanka | Semi-finals on Our Mind But Need to be Clinical Against Sri Lanka: Karthik

India vs Sri Lanka | Semi-finals on Our Mind But Need to be Clinical Against Sri Lanka: Karthik

"First up is Sri Lanka. I think there's a few things a few players would want to achieve personally and as a team as well," he said.

Tick personal boxes of preparation ahead of the semifinal, but focus firmly on putting up a clinical show against Sri Lanka. That would be India's mantra going into Saturday's game at Leeds, according to Dinesh Karthik.

India, along with Australia, New Zealand and England, have sealed qualification for the semifinal. The final positions will be decided on Saturday, after the completion of India vs Sri Lanka and Australia vs South Africa.

Karthik said the semifinal is on the back of their minds.

"First up is Sri Lanka. I think there's a few things a few players would want to achieve personally and as a team as well," he said.


"We'd definitely want to play the best game that we can. But having said that, I think at the back of our minds we do have the semifinal on mind. I think that's a big game for us. For all the four teams that qualify, it's going to be a massive game. But having said that, I think we're professional enough to go out there against Sri Lanka and play a very clinical game.

"A few of the batters would want to have a good hit. Even the bowlers, for that matter - it's important that they work on the things that they want to do. I think there is scope for improvement in all aspects of our game. I think we've been playing a good tournament until now, but I'm sure personally each player would have some box to tick and I think we'll all be looking to do that."

Karthik has played only one match in this World Cup, against Bangladesh on Tuesday. It was the World Cup debut for the 34-year-old who began his ODI career in 2004.

"I've been around for 15 years. So to play that game, I really am happy first. I've been to the World Cup in 2007, which actually didn't go as well as we had planned," he said. "And for me to come here and sit out the initial bit and then get a chance - against Bangladesh - was something that I was really looking forward to. I'm really happy. I think it's a very important phase of this tournament. And I'd like to do the best I can moving forward for Team India."

Karthik said despite being benched for the initial few games, the team management gave him clarity on his role. He also explained that his preparation was the same whether he was in the XI or not.

"They've been very clear on what my role has been. When I go in at No. 7, I need to judge this -- assess the situation of the game and then play accordingly," he said. "If obviously we need to cross the line when we're batting second, then I need to pace myself accordingly. If you're batting first, then make sure we get to the par score that's required. They've made it clear that this is where I'll be batting, and my role is to make sure, whatever the situation is, assess it and do the best that I can.

"I think every member in this 15 prepares every game believing that he can play. I say that because we get a handful of opportunities. We get an opportunity to hit in the practice. We get to play against bowlers. So basically we're treated like we're playing in the 11. So we try and prepare like we're playing in the 11. Obviously when they tell us we're not playing, that's when we know whether we're playing or not. But up until then, we practice in such a manner that we are knowing we're going to play in the 11."

India, and other teams, have struggled to finish strongly in last ten overs of the innings despite strong starts. It has put the focus on the middle order, but Karthik said a lot of it was down to the conditions and the length of the tail.

"It depends first thing on the conditions. And also it depends a little bit on how many batsmen you have behind you," he said. "I think you have more freedom to play shots when you have people who can obviously play until the end. If you feel that it's important that you stay -- if you need to be the player to stay to the end, then you delay the inevitable and then make sure that you take on the bowlers at the stage where you feel that there won't be any loss for the team. So, A, you need to play the conditions. And, B, obviously the skill sets of the bowler, and then you've got to assess what the situation is and what your team needs and then react accordingly."

The World Cup has seen plenty of teams struggling to chase down totals, and Karthik said it was a combination of slow pitches and World Cup pressure.

"When you're batting first, it's about seeing through the initial phase when the ball is new and then you have the ability to decide what the par score is and try and get there," he said. "When you're batting second I think the wicket changes a bit, becomes slightly slower, helps the spinners a little bit. For a lot of the teams, they're bowling cross-seam and the wicket has been a little up-and-down as well. It's not been that easy to execute shots. And also this is a World Cup, so obviously there's a bit of scoreboard pressure, and I think a lot of teams have fallen prey to that as well.

"I think India is a team there have been good chasers for a long time. We're very confident of chasing. I think we as a team believe that we're good chasers, because that's what we do day in, day out. And we're a team that actually has the ability to handle pressure very well. We'd back ourselves to chase and get the totals that we believe we can achieve."