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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Reuters > Report


Australia aim for unbeaten record

John Mehaffey | March 14, 2007 10:47 IST

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Australia embark on a Caribbean journey on Wednesday they plan to end in Barbados on April 28 with an unique hat-trick of World Cups and an unbeaten record for the second tournament in a row.

The world champions meet Scotland at Warner Park in the first of the Group A matches which include a game against the Netherlands and climax with a match against the new world number one side South Africa on March 24.

"It's a very special event to us and we would like to think that we are as equipped as anybody else to win this time around," captain Ricky Ponting, who led the undefeated 2003 side, told reporters.

"Last time to go through a World Cup undefeated was fantastic."

A warm-up week in St Vincent, during which Australia defeated Zimbabwe and England convincingly in 13-a-side games, was enough to convince Ponting and any neutral observers that Australia have put their five consecutive losses this year well behind them.

"All the guys have got over it," Ponting said. "We are ranked second in the world but we are probably favourites to win this event. I know our team doesn't pay any attention to the table whatsoever."

Glenn McGrath, Australia's veteran strike bowler who is playing in his final series of any sort, suggested on Tuesday that the pressure was now on South Africa.

"I have always felt that they are a team who don't handle pressure as well as the Australia team," he told reporters.

'FEARED LOSING'

"The fact that they're ranked number one now means there is a whole lot of pressure on them to hold top position.

"I have always thought they feared losing. They have always feared losing more than backing themselves to win."

Opener Matthew Hayden, who broke his right toe against New Zealand last month, is scheduled to return to the side while Shaun Tait's four wickets against England have ensured he will take the new ball.

Scotland won the associate nations' tournament in Kenya this year but they have lost each of their five World Cup matches to date and would need a miracle on Wednesday to topple Australia.

"Obviously it's going to be an incredible challenge for us," their Australian-born coach Peter Drinnen told reporters on Tuesday.

"We've got to be realistic about it. What we are concerned about it that we have set certain standards over the past five or six weeks and it's very, very important for us to reach those standards."

Both sides will name their final teams after examining the pitch on Wednesday.

Teams (probable):

Australia - Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Brad Hodge, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Brad Hogg, Nathan Bracken, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Tait.

Scotland - Fraser Watts, Majid Haq, Ryan Watson, Gavin Hamilton, Neil McCallum, Dougie Brown, Colin Smith, Craig Wright (captain), John Blain, Ross Lyons, Paul Hoffmann.


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