Aussies~~ time to win Champions, says Ponting

Published: Friday, October 6, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Brisbane:Australia have yet to win the ICC Champions Trophy but skipper Ricky Ponting believes this may be their year.

Australia have won three World Cups but have been knocked out of the Champions Trophy in the last two semi-finals.

"I'm confident we've got a talented and confident squad going into this competition who really want to win it," Ponting said at the airport here Friday prior to the team's departure for India.

"We've tended to have good success in One-day cricket in India over the years and we know the kind of conditions to expect so we're not thinking about obstacles, we're concentrating on executing our plans each match."

Ponting is expecting tough competition for the title from South Africa and from the sub-continent sides.

"Sri Lanka will be competitive in India and you can't discount the home team on home soil," he said. "Pakistan also have a good One-day side."

The Australians, nominal favourites for a hat-trick of World Cup victories in the Caribbean next March and April, have prepared for the Champions Trophy by winning a tri-series against the West Indies and India in Malaysia last month.

Ponting's team tuned up for the world's second biggest One-day tournament with a crushing 127-run victory over the West Indies in the final of the DLF Cup in Kuala Lumpur on September 25.

The tri-series was Australia's first competitive cricket since whitewashing Bangladesh in three ODIs last April.

Ponting believes veteran fast bowler Glenn McGrath will continue to improve during the ICC Champions Trophy.

McGrath returned to the national side last month after taking time off from January this year to support his wife, Jane, in her battle with breast cancer.

McGrath, 37, recorded modest returns of 1-73 during the DLF tournament in Malaysia but Ponting believes he is getting better.

"He bowled steadily and within himself in Kuala Lumpur and knew after that that he wanted to get more overs under his belt, which is why you saw him play club cricket last weekend," Ponting said.

"He'll get the chance to bowl for a month in India, which is good.

"I thought his comeback in KL was pretty good and I expect him to keep improving as we move through the next month."

Australia's opening match in the Champions Trophy is on October 18 in Mumbai against a qualifying team.


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