Johannesburg: Andrew Symonds will miss reigning champions Australia's first World Cup Super Six match against Sri Lanka in Centurion on Friday with a thigh muscle injury.[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Australia captain Ricky Ponting said on Thursday the hard-hitting batsman would be replaced by all-rounder Ian Harvey, best known for his medium-paced bowling."Symonds has a slight strain in his abductor muscle which he did in training at Centurion on Wednesday," Ponting explained."Ian Harvey is a very good One-day bowler. We've known that for a long time. Hopefully he can do what he did in the first game against Pakistan and take four wickets."We'll probably lose out slightly in the batting but hopefully gain with the ball," Ponting added.
Australia will also be without fast bowler Jason Gillespie, whose World Cup was cut short by a heel injury and Ponting admitted his absence would be a blow to the team. "Jason Gillespie is one of the best fast bowlers in the world and any team would miss him," said Ponting whose team have been without banned leg spinner Shane Warne for the entire tournament."But Andy Bichel really stepped up for us the other day," Ponting said of the Queenslander's seven 20 against England at Port Elizabeth on Sunday. "He'll be ready and up for it and hopefully the rest of us will be on the wagon with him.
"Before the England match, Ponting said his side was aiming to go through the tournament unbeaten and he said that was still the aim despite Gillespie's enforced absence. "I still think we can do it. There's a lot of hard work to do but if it happened it would be an outstanding achievement." Due to its unbeaten record in the preliminary league, Australia start the Super Six phase on 12 points and could conceivably advance into the semi-finals without winning any of its three second round matches."I think that's just a result of how well we've been playing in the group games and we have to be rewarded for that. But we'll be looking to win every game," Ponting insisted.
Sri Lanka was the last team to beat Australia in a One-day match, at Sydney in January, before Ponting's men began a world record run of 12 successive victories.Ponting added that Sri Lanka had other dangerous performers besides in-form captain Sanath Jayasuriya who had to be taken seriously. "Muttiah Muralitharan is probably the best bowler in the world, certainly spin bowler," he said.
"We've spoken about ways of playing him but ultimately it's down to the individual to work out their own method."We've also spoken about Chaminda Vaas and these are two very good players." Ponting, one of the survivors of Australia's defeat to Sri Lanka in the 1996 World Cup final, insisted history will have no bearing on Friday's match."We've beaten Sri Lanka on a number of occasions, they've beaten us a few times. A lot of guys have moved on since then."Copyright AFP 2001