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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Reuters > Report


Ponting expects full-blooded scrap with New Zealand

John Mehaffey | April 18, 2007 12:42 IST

Australia captain Ricky Ponting expects a full-blooded challenge from New Zealand on Friday after the World Cup Super Eights match against an under-strength Sri Lanka turned into a non-event.

Australia routed the 1996 champions, who took the field on Monday without their leading bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, by seven wickets.

Strike bowler Lasith Malinga, yet to play a one-day match against the world champions, also sat out the match because of an ankle injury.

Although the trans-Tasman rivals have already qualified for the semi-finals on April 24 and 25, both intend to field their top sides in the final second-round match at the Grenada National Stadium.

In New Zealand's case this will mean playing their dangerous if injury-prone fast bowler Shane Bond, who has taken 34 one-day wickets at 13.88 in 11 matches against Australia.

"At the last World Cup he took six for 23 against us in Port Elizabeth and he got a hat-trick against us this year," Ponting said.

'UTMOST ATTENTION'

"He's one of those guys you have to pay the utmost attention to. He's very dangerous with the new ball.

"They love a fight, they love a scrap. They are a pretty proud team and I've got a lot of respect for them."

From the moment they set foot in St Vincent for the warm-up matches last month, Ponting and his men have been on a mission.

Before the start of the Australian summer they won the Champions Trophy for the first time, followed by the 5-0 Ashes whitewash at home over England.

Now they want to become the first team to win the World Cup three times in a row.

The only setbacks in a golden summer have been the tri-series finals loss to England followed by a 3-0 defeat to the Kiwis in the Chappell-Hadlee series.

England's victory has been relegated to the history books with wins for Australia over Michael Vaughan's team in a World Cup warm-up match and the Super Eights but the New Zealand victory over an injury-depleted side has yet to be avenged.

Although New Zealand have lost to Sri Lanka only at the World Cup and have played some excellent, disciplined cricket, the momentum is now clearly with Australia who are playing with a relentless confidence and efficiency.

"We are never going to sit back and be happy with what we have done, what we have achieved or where we are at," Ponting said. "We will have a day off and have a couple of days' training in preparation for New Zealand.

"We like to think going into that game we can improve as well and win that game and go into the semis with a whole lot of momentum."

The seven-week World Cup culminates with the Barbados final on April 28.


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