Steve Waugh knows what it feels to play a nail-biting World Cup semifinal in England. The Australian legend, who had led his side in that famous tie against South Africa in 1999, before going on to lift the trophy, stated that he expected India to chase down 240. He also came out in MS Dhoni’s support amid criticism and retirement talks, lauding him for winning numerous games for India and chasing ‘better than anyone in the history of the game.’
When asked about India’s heartbreaking loss to New Zealand on Wednesday, Waugh told ANI, “I expected India to chase down 240, no doubt. But again, it was great bowling by (Matt) Henry and (Trent) Boult upfront. Once you do that, it‘s pressure in a big game situation, it’s hard to chase runs. But India would no doubt be disappointed, they would’ve expected to make 240.”
On the criticism for Dhoni, who almost took India over the line with a 50 before getting run out by a whisker, amid talks over his retirement, the former Australian captain, said, “I think it’s pretty unfair. MS Dhoni has won so many games for India, and he’s played the same way over a long period of time. Without him, there wouldn’t be a chance to win a game.
"And of course, you’re not going to win every time. The other day, he was just a couple of inches away from being home for the second run. He may have still won that game. I certainly wouldn’t criticise him. I know how hard it is to win one-day games chasing. He’s done it better than anyone in the history of the game.”
Reacting to India’s overall performance in the tournament, Waugh said, “They played good cricket. They’d consider themselves unlucky to not be there on Sunday. They had some moments, couple of games that really cost. In between, they played some excellent cricket.”
On Australia’s loss against England in the second semifinal, Waugh said that it was more about what went right for England than what went wrong for Austalia. The former middle order batsman credited the English players for bringing their A-game while stating that Australia were ‘off’. He also said that losing wickets at the beginning can make teams hard to recover in big matches and that they were outplayed by a ‘very strong England team.’
Waugh also stated that he was ‘surprised’ New Zealand beat India, but they too were deserving of a place in the final. The former cricketer added that the Kiwis have always been ‘underdogs’ and that’s how ‘they like to be’, but if they could win the trophy, they could inspire a generation of youngsters wanting to play the game. He also said that the experience of five players who were a part of the losing squad in the final against Australia in 2015 will come in handy.
The 54-year-old also put his money on England to be favourites to win the World Cup since they are high on momentum, but added that New Zealand can always surprise.
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