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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Ponting confident his 'inexperienced guys' will deliver

Ponting confident his 'inexperienced guys' will deliver

Last updated on: February 18, 2011 11:42 IST

Australian script is as bereft of ideas as a Bollywood producer

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Bikash Mohapatra

If the run-up to 2007 World Cup was bad for Ricky Ponting, then the corresponding period this year hasn't been good either.

Back then, Ponting's team was under increasing pressure following successive defeats at the hands of England in the Commonwealth Bank series, and to New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

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Yet the Australians pulled up their socks in time to gift their countrymen a fourth World Cup trophy, their third in succession, and Ponting his second as captain.

Four years later, the Australian script is as bereft of ideas as a Bollywood producer. An away defeat in India was followed by a one-day series loss at home to Sri Lanka.


Image: Ricky Ponting

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And then came the biggest debacle of them all.

Ponting's team lost the coveted Ashes series against England at home, giving the latter their first series win Down Under since 1987-88. It was also the first time in decades that Australia had been beaten in back-to-back Ashes' series.

All of a sudden everything seemed to go wrong for the most dominant cricketing nation in the last two decades -- their batting looked disjointed, the bowling attack lacked sting, the captaincy kept changing hands and, more importantly, the team's confidence reached its nadir.

Experts were busy writing the Australian team's epitaph when a commanding performance in the one-day series -- a 6-1 result -- against England came in like a breath of fresh air.


Image: Australian One-Day team pose with the trophy after their series win over England on February 6

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'The group will make an impact in the tournament'

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And that probably has renewed Ponting, as well as his team's, belief that they can win a fourth straight world title, notwithstanding the fact that critics still give this side a thumbs down.

Australia's captain was prudent when asked to compare this side with the champion teams of yore.  

"If you look at our team now, compared to the teams then, we do have some inexperienced guys," he admitted, before adding, "There are no McGraths, Warnes and Gilchrists in this team.

"However, these are players who have established some reputation in one-day cricket and I am confident that this group will make an impact in this tournament."


Image: Australian team

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'We have a good side right now'

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The Australian juggernaut has already suffered two minor jolts in their subcontinent sojourn -- losing both their warm-up games, to India and South Africa respectively. And Ponting was honest in admitting to his team's frailties.

"We didn't have a great start in the lead up to the tournament," he admitted, before going on to explain the details.

"The conditions were difficult and it was tough to adjust," he reasoned, adding, "But we are happy with our efforts considered the fact that we arrived just two days before the first warm-up game.

"We have had few ups and downs due to a few injuries but we have a good side right now for the tournament."


Image: The Australian team

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'We have a good record in one-dayers in the subcontinent'

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There were, however, two things in which Ponting's confidence seemed justified -- his side's pedigree in ICC tournaments, the World Cup in particular, and its remarkable one-day record in the subcontinent wickets.

He palpably wasted no time in referring to the two factors.

"We have a great record in one-day internationals in the subcontinent," he said, adding, "And the World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport where we have done well thus far.

"We only have got to play some good cricket in the next six weeks if we are to defend our title."

In what is certainly Ponting's World Cup swansong, his teammates can give him no better farewell gift than a third world title (as captain). And that would go a long way to justify the Australian captain's faith in his wards.


Image: Australia's captain Ricky Ponting arrives on a rickshaw at the opening ceremony of the World Cup on Thursday

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