We took a leaf out of Kiwis' book, says Aussie skipper

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2003, 5:28 [IST]
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Centurion: Australian captain Ricky Ponting declared the Indian cricket team to be short of confidence after the defending champions scored a thumping nine-wicket win at the Supersport Park ground on Saturday. "I think Indian batsmen are definitely down on confidence at the moment," said Ponting. "I think they are carrying the troubles of the New Zealand tour where they never went beyond 150." The Australians, who went on to knock off the required runs with more than 27 overs remaining, shot out India for its lowest World Cup total of 125. Ponting said his side had taken a leaf out of New Zealand's book and tried to bowl at the Indians in a similar way. "We just wanted to continue and bowl to them in a similar way the New Zealanders bowled to them, fairly short and aggressive. I was pleased how the bowlers stuck to their plans that they had for individual Indian batsmen." As a case in point, Ponting mentioned the way his bowlers went about bowling to India's batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. "Tendulkar had one good over against McGrath. It made us ring changes and McGrath changed his line a bit. "We tried to bowl a little bit wider to Sachin today than we normally do. We all know how strong he is down the ground and how beautifully he works the ball on the leg-side. "We decided after few overs to try and make him hit through the offside. He was unable to do it against McGrath or Gillespie today." Ponting was pleased his side was able to take care of two of the strongest teams in the group and promised they wouldn't let up in the remaining games as well.

"We really wanted to play our best cricket in these two first games which possibly are the toughest in our group. "In 1999 World Cup, we had gone off to a slow start and we didn't want to get ourselves in a similar situation here. "We have done that now but we can't take it easy. Hopefully we would keep working and improving." The Australian captain had a word of caution for minnows Holland. "The one thing you can't complain about the Aussies is complacency. Everyday they want to improve.

You would see against Holland our team would come out and give a very good performance." Ponting was also happy with his team's all-round performance on the field. "Our fielding has been most impressive. The amount of energy and intensity they showed throughout the innings has been really good. That really helps the bowlers out. "It gives them a little bit more enthusiasm when they are at the top of their run up." Ponting also confirmed his side would be going to Zimbabwe next week to play its league game.

"We would be going to Zimbabwe in a week's time. Guys need to win there as well and look to top the table." Ponting wanted his bowlers to bowl short and fast at Indian batsmen and that's why he gave the new ball to Brett Lee rather than Jason Gillespie at the start of the innings. "We thought India's weakness would be sheer pace and bounce and if anybody was going to get something out of the wicket, it was going to be Brett. "Also I thought because of the cloud cover, Brett would be able to swing the ball. "I actually wanted him to blast a couple of guys at the top of the order. Those two wickets really set up the things for us.

"The thing about our bowlers is they are very flexible and you could use them in different plans and different conditions." Ponting was surprised his side was able to win so convincingly against the Indians. "We hoped to win but we didn't think it would be quite as convincing. It was a very good wicket to bat but we had their batsmen under pressure straight on." Ponting said the key for his bowlers was to tighten up the things after Indians were off to a quick start. "McGrath bowled three maidens in a row after Jason (Gillespie) came on. It was 40 in the eighth over and they were still in the 40s after 15 or 16 overs. "That's when we really tightened it up but I don't think the wicket had anything to do with it."

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