WC 2003 - New Zealand has been as strong as any team: Lehmann

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2003, 5:28 [IST]
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Port Elizabeth: Australian batsman Darren Lehmann promised on Monday there will be no let-up in his team's relentless pursuit of the World Cup even though they have already qualified for the semi-finals.

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The victory over Sri Lanka in Friday's opening Super Six match, which put Australia into the last four, was its 13th successive One-day win and Lehmann said they are confident New Zealand will be the 14th victim on Tuesday."Don't think we'll be letting up against New Zealand. It's when you start believing that you're unbeatable that you're most vulnerable," warned Lehmann."In terms of skill we're the best side in this tournament.

But skill is only one part of the game. Mentally, New Zealand has been as strong as any team we have played over the past couple of years."It's the way they play the game and part of the great trans-Tasman rivalry. It might not be as big a rivalry as England against Australia, but it's pretty strong."There's one thing no self-respecting Aussie can do and that's lose against a Kiwi," the batsman told the BBC.

Lehmann top-scored for Australia with 76 when the two sides met at the last World Cup in 1999 but the Kiwis still pulled off a five wicket victory in that match in Cardiff.Furthermore, the desire for revenge has been sharpened by the Black Caps success in preventing the Aussies from reaching the final of their own tri-nations series on home soil two years ago."They did it in a pretty simple way - by playing very good, disciplined cricket and I reckon that's the only way to beat us," added Lehman.

You can barely afford to put a foot wrong over 100 overs and you have to play to your potential."Even then you have to accept that your best might not be good enough. That might sound arrogant but that's the way we approach every game ourselves. We don't live in the past."Copyright AFP 2001

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