Aussies looking forward to settle scores with Kiwis

Published: Saturday, September 14, 2002, 21:40 [IST]
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Colombo: Australia will be looking forward to settling a score with New Zealand when it clashes in the Champions Trophy One-day tournament on Sunday.

Australia is keen to avenge its home defeat at the hands of New Zealand early this year in a triangular series, also featuring South Africa. Stephen Fleming's New Zealanders performed remarkably well in that tournament to ruin the Australian party before losing to South Africa in a best-of-three final. Both the teams will have their reputation at stake, with Australia going into the match as World Cup winners and New Zealand as the tournament's defending champions. Australia never did justice to its stature in this event as it crashed out in the first round at Dhaka in 1998 and then at Nairobi two years later, both times losing to India. "We're focussing on the first match against New Zealand," said Australian skipper Ricky Ponting. "If we get over the first hurdle, we've Bangladesh in the next game and the semi-finals from there on." Only one team will qualify for the semi-finals from the group, consisting of Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh. "This time we're facing New Zealand in the first match and it has shown it can beat us. We're looking forward to putting up a good performance. We're taking this tournament seriously," said Ponting. Australia has been playing good cricket of late, as it remained unbeaten in a triangular One-day series at Nairobi before sharing the trophy with Pakistan following the rain-hit final. "The players seem to be responding well. We got them working hard now and ready for the match on Sunday," said Ponting. New Zealand captain Fleming expects a resolute performance from his team, missing the services of two key players - all-rounder Chris Cairns and star batsman Craig McMillan. McMillan has opted out of the tour because of security reasons, while Cairns is injured. Cairns played a major role in his team's victory in the last tournament at Nairobi, hammering an unbeaten century in the final against India despite batting with an injured knee. "Everything depends on the first match and we do fancy our chances," said Fleming. "We've quite a few young players capable of delivering. We've to ensure that we keep pressure on Australia."

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