x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Smiling Dhoni looks ahead to Pakistan

MS Dhoni, India's ecstatic captain, is looking forward to an exciting semi-final against close rivals, Pakistan on Wednesday.

MS Dhoni, the India captain, expressed his delight after his side set up a mouth-watering semi-final against Pakistan with a five-wicket victory over Australia in the quarter-final of the Cricket World Cup.

Australia had set a respectable total of 260, with captain Ricky Ponting returning to form to score a century, but Yuvraj Singh continued his fantastic run with a much needed half-century at a time when India seemed to be struggling in their chase.

Suresh Raina also scored 34 not out to help India over the line and into the semi-finals.

"These were the two guys who needed to score the runs, with Yuvraj going well I thought we'd make it," Dhoni said. "It was about managing the pressure as well as the technical aspects. We didn't bowl as well as we needed to but we competed hard, and I thought we were in with a bit of a chance."

Ponting's knock of 104 had given the Australians a starting point ahead of their bowling, but the captain was not happy with the team's effort in the field.

"260 was a reasonable total but the bowling wasn't what we needed today," Ponting said. "With 15 overs to go it was really touch and go, but Yuvraj and Raina played well. We needed to get into their tail and we were unable to do that."

His India counterpart Dhoni was full of praise for his own teammates fielding efforts.

"We fielded the best we have so far today, everybody gave more than 100 per cent, [and] we are not a side known for fielding so we saved maybe 15 runs in the field today," he said. "It doesn't really get better than an India v Pakistan semi-final in the subcontinent, [but] every game is the same for us irrespective of whether we play Australia or Pakistan."

Yuvraj delivered the winning runs with a boundary as he continued his amazing form with both bat and ball.

"The pressure was on us. I knew Suresh had to come in after Dhoni so I just concentrated on hitting the ball down the ground and looking for the gaps," said Yuvraj, the man of the match. "We held our nerves until the end and won the match, [and] beating the three-time world champions is special, but the semi-final will be even more special.

"I started the World Cup well and I have concentrated on winning games for my country."

* Press Association