Aussies to go on holiday ahead of tough SL challenge

Published: Friday, September 20, 2002, 0:49 [IST]
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Colombo: Australian skipper Ricky Ponting conceded on Thursday Sri Lanka could prove to be tough opponents in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy One-day tournament. "We haven't focused on Sri Lanka yet," Ponting said before his team's departure for neighbouring Maldives for holidays. The Australian team is scheduled to return on Monday. "But we'll study them in the coming days. They should be favourites as the conditions will suit them better," said Ponting, whose team clash with the hosts in the second semi-final on September 27. Sri Lanka had beaten Australia in home conditions in the final of a triangular One- day series, also featuring India, in 1999. Australia qualified for the penultimate round of this event with a thumping nine-wicket victory over minnows Bangladesh in its second and last league match of the three-team group. It had already thrashed New Zealand by 164 runs in its opening match. "We've worked out this part of the week so that when we play we will be ready," said Ponting. "We have been playing well, especially in the last few weeks and in strange conditions too," said Ponting, whose team shared the title with Pakistan following the rain-hit final of a triangular series at Nairobi this month. "We've got a nice little trip planned for a few days and I think the rest should do us good. When we come out we hope we can do our best in the semi-final." Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie said he had been keenly looking forward to playing against Sri Lanka. "I'm certainly looking forward to the challenge of facing Sri Lanka, but I think it will be hard to beat them," said Gillespie, named man-of-the-match for his superb 3-20 effort off 10 overs against Bangladesh. "I'm looking forward to doing nothing in the Maldives ... getting a tan, good swimming. But we've plenty of time to prepare when we get back," he said. Bangladeshi captain Khaled Mashud said his team was still learning to compete with big sides in international cricket. "We played one of the best sides today and the team's morale is high for the next game against New Zealand," said Mashud. "We have to play sides like Australia and New Zealand. It will take time for Bangladesh to come to that level. Most of the boys are young and need to get more matches. "I have been playing international cricket for nearly seven years and this was only the second time I was facing Australia," said Mashud.

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