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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Reuters > Report

Ponting eyes clash with in-form South Africa

March 01, 2007 12:30 IST

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Australia captain Ricky Ponting is already looking forward to his team's final group game of the World Cup -- a mouth-watering clash with in-form South Africa.

The defending champions go into the tournament on a five-match losing streak and have been knocked off the top of the one-day rankings by the South Africans, who they play in their final Group A game on March 24 in St. Kitts. Ponting, who flew out of Sydney for the Caribbean with his squad on Wednesday, acknowledged that the showdown with Graeme Smith's side shaped as the litmus test for his out-of-form team.

"South Africa will be a big game and we've had some great games of one-day cricket against them over the last five or six years," he told reporters.

"In the last series over there, it came down to the last game and we got 430 and lost."

Ponting said South Africa should be in positive mood.

"They've played some very good one-day cricket of late against Pakistan over there, so they'll be pretty confident," he said.

"But I know we match up well against any other team and that will be a good test for both teams."

The countries have had some epic World Cup battles, notably the 1999 semi-final in England when South Africa threw away what had looked certain victory in the last over to leave the match tied and Australia through to the final. 

Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds is hoping to be fit to face the South Africans after making a rapid recovery from shoulder surgery.

"Hopefully, I'll take part in that match," he said. "I've been trying to get a bit of strength and bulk back into the muscle and I'm ahead of schedule, I'm really happy with how it feels and every day I can feel it improving."

Ponting said his main concern was making sure Symonds did not try to rush back too soon.

"The only thing that is going to be hard is restraining him a little bit and making sure he doesn't get too far ahead of himself and do too much too early," Ponting said.

Scotland and the Netherlands are the other two teams in Group A.

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