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WC 2003 - Prince and punter set to clash in the finale

Published: Saturday, March 22, 2003, 22:30 [IST]
 
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Johannesburg: One appeared destined for the captaincy, the other turned from bad boy to head boy. But India's Saurav Ganguly and Australia's Ricky Ponting are united by their burning desire to succeed and neither will give an inch in Sunday's World Cup final at the Wanderers.Ganguly, 30, dubbed the 'Prince of Calcutta' by former England opening batsman Geoffrey Boycott, was born into a wealthy family and his sometimes aloof manner has not always made him popular with fans and opponents alike.

He even managed to get under the skin of such a hardened competitor as Steve Waugh.The Australia captain was annoyed at being kept waiting at the toss by Ganguly during the 2000-01 Test series in India which the home team won 2-1.But, crucially, Ganguly has his team-mates' respect, the support of BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya as well as the ability to inspire and unify a side which is always at the mercy of regional rivalries.Sunday's match will mark his 100th One-day International as captain - an impressive statistic in cricket-crazy India where pressure from fans often means the easiest way for officials to save their own skins is to sack the skipper at the first sign of trouble.

Ganguly's steel shows in the way he has been determined to carry on in the job despite the stoning of his family home in Kolkata after India went down to a nine-wicket thrashing against Australia in a first round match last month.Kolkata also has significance for Ponting, nicknamed Punter by his team-mates after his ling for a bet on the greyhounds. It was there that his career ran into problems when he was involved in a nightclub incident in 1998 and a year later his chances of becoming an Australia captain looked even more remote when he ran into trouble at a Sydney bar.

But Ponting, who hails from unfashionable Tasmania, eventually turned from poacher to game-keeper. When Australia wanted a new One-day skipper to replace Waugh in 2002 it was Ponting, not squeaky-clean Test vice-captain Adam Gilchrist, whom the Australian selectors chose.And with his side going into Sunday's final with a world record 16 consecutive One-day International victories behind them, no one in Australia has had cause to regret placing their faith in a punter.Copyright AFP 2001

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