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Australia wants to ensure Pakistan is not 3rd time lucky

Published: Friday, September 3, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London:Australia will aim to make it three wins out of three against Pakistan at Lord's on Saturday in a warm-up match for the ICC Champions Trophy which gets underway in England later this month.

Back in 1999 Australia won the World Cup final with a crushing eight-wicket win at the 'home of cricket' against Pakistan in a match that lasted fewer than 60 overs.

And two years later, during their successful Ashes tour of England, Australia enjoyed a nine-wicket win against Pakistan at Lord's in the 2001 NatWest Series triangular final.

One consolation for Pakistan is that leg-spinner Shane Warne, currently captain of English County Hampshire and who took four for 33 in the World Cup final and two years later claimed three for 56, has retired from One-day International cricket.

But Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, who played in both those matches, said he was looking forward to Australia's new breed enjoying the unique experience of playing at Lord's.

"We have some great memories of playing Pakistan at Lords, having beaten them in the 1999 World Cup Final and the 2001 NatWest Series," Ponting said Friday.

"Its always a thrill to play at the home of cricket, and it will be special day for a number of our younger players who have yet to represent Australia at the ground."

Last month Australia defeated Pakistan by 17 runs in the final of the Dutch triangular event in Amstelveen.

But Pakistan were competitive throughout and had they held their nerve they might just have pulled off a famous win in what was a rain-marred event also featuring India.

And Ponting for one is not under-estimating their capabilities.

"Pakistan are a quality side, possessing an excellent pace attack led by Shoaib Akhtar and some dangerous batsmen such as Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana.

"Obviously we got a decent look at them in Holland recently, and it was good for our momentum to come away with a win.

"But in saying that, were not reading too much into the result of the Holland final because we know the conditions in England will be completely different to what we experienced on that occasion."

Looking ahead to Saturday's match, Ponting, who stroked his way to an audacious 140 not out in last year's 125-run World Cup final win against India in Johannesburg, said Australia had yet to select a starting side.

"Given we have spent the past week at Southampton (close to Hampshire's Rose Bowl base where Michael Clarke has also starred for the southern County this season) we haven't had an opportunity to look at the conditions at Lords.

"We will finalise the side tomorrow (Saturday) morning as we look to match our line-up to the conditions. It's a fairly flexible squad, so there are plenty of options there."

Australia have yet to win the Champions Trophy, a 'mini World Cup', but Ponting whose side begin the event against rank outsiders the United States at the Rose Bowl on September 13, predicted his side would have no trouble peaking for the tournament.

"By the time we have played Pakistan, followed by our lead-up match against Hampshire, Id like to think we'd be playing somewhere near our best for the start of the Champions Trophy."

Now guided by former South Africa coach Bob Woolmer, Pakistan should be a better team for their Dutch experience.

And after that defeat the ex-England batsman said he couldn't wait for another crack at the world champions.

"The more you play against them (Australia), the more you learn how to play, and the more you can get your team closer to them."

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