NEW DELHI, March 31, 2011 (AFP) – India were desperate on Thursday to prevent their World Cup campaign from being overwhelmed by a wave of national hysteria ahead of Saturday’s final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai. The semi-final win over arch-rivals Pakistan in Mohali sparked wild late-night celebrations, dominating front pages and leading TV news bulletins.
But captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni warned against complacency.
“There’ll be plenty of things happening around us, like in this game against Pakistan, but what’s important is not to get distracted. We all know what our jobs are as professional cricketers so we’ll stick to that,” insisted Dhoni.
“Sri Lanka are a very good side and they have done really well so far in the tournament.”
Despite Dhoni’s pleadings, the Indian press wasn’t listening.
“After this… the Cup is a bonus,” said the headline on Mail Today which splashed a picture of the celebrating Indian team across its entire front page.
“India book Mumbai matinee,” offered the Hindustan Times front page while its sports pages opted for “We hate to lose”, before adding…”finally we have a team that embraces pressure instead of buckling under it”. Dhoni also praised master ba