'We are going to be tested more this time'

Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2003, 21:04 [IST]
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Sydney: Australia's understrength One-day cricket team have their backs against the wall heading into the tri-series with India and New Zealand on the sub-continent, captain Ricky Ponting said. The Australians left Sydney on Wednesday for the tournament with effectively a second-string bowling attack after injuries to front-line bowlers, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee along with suspended leg-spinner Shane Warne. Ponting said the weakened world champions would be tested more in the Limited Overs series in India than at the World Cup in Southern Africa last February-March.

He said Australia would be less prepared for the conditions than the other two teams, which played a two-Test series against each other earlier this month. Ponting said it would represent a great achievement for Australia to make the final of the tournament. "Both the sides we are playing against are very good One-day sides and they've been there and playing in those conditions for the last few weeks," Ponting said at Sydney airport. "We've got our backs to the wall a little bit with our injuries and preparations, but we won't be using those as excuses, we'll get over there and prepare the best that we can." He said the tournament may develop into one of Australia's sternest challenges of recent times.

"I thought the World Cup was a big challenge for us as well. Going to the World Cup as favourites and defending champions, we were under a fair bit of pressure there as well," Ponting said. "But I think the side is going to be tested more this time, with the injuries we've got, to key places to key bowlers especially, it's a big test for us." Ponting said he had no concerns about facing Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who proved his nemesis on the last Test tour of India in 2001 when he scored only 17 runs at an average of 3.4. "I think the biggest thing for me last time was I just didn't trust my technique enough against him (Harbhajan)," Ponting said. "After I was out in the first innings of the first Test, I was always trying different ways of playing him and none of them seemed to work very well.

"I've played him since that Test series, we've played in a One-day series over there and I got a hundred in one of the games there, I've done okay against him in the past since then. "I haven't done any special work, nothing different than anybody else, I think I know and I've got a better understanding of how to play in those conditions." He said Australia held a psychological advantage over India, particularly since their World Cup final demolition of Sourav Ganguly's team earlier this year when he scored an unbeaten 140.

He said the tour represented a great opportunity for the less-experienced international bowlers, left-arm medium-pacer Nathan Bracken and Brad Williams as Australia looked to assert itself against an Indian team it will play home and away Tests against next year. Australian squad: Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist, Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Ian Harvey, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Michael Kasprowicz, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Brad Williams.

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