Shaky Aussies now vulnerable before WC: Media

Published: Monday, February 12, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Triumphalism has given way to anxiety as Australia's World Cup campaign has faltered with England's stunning triangular one-day series victory over the once formidable Aussies, newspapers said.

England shook off their historical 5-0 Ashes Test series flogging five weeks ago and their lowly one-day ranking to spank the Australians 2-0 in the best-of-three finals series here Sunday.

Suddenly, Ricky Ponting's team look vulnerable with just a month to go before the World Cup in the Caribbean.

"The team that appeared impregnable a fortnight ago is now a side under siege, plummeting to its third consecutive defeat to England and its first limited-overs finals defeat on home soil in 14 years," The Sydney Morning Herald said on Monday.

"Australia's losses to England have coincided with the long-term biceps injury to Andrew Symonds.

"Without his power and versatility, the Australian line-up suddenly appears unbalanced, unsettled and unsure of itself.

"That was evident again last night, when Australia had its worst batting collapse of the series to finish at 152 for eight from 27 rain-affected overs."

This was all in stark contrast to the ridiculed England team of early last month -- the first to lose an Ashes series 5-0 to Australia in 86 years.

Australia won seven of their eight preliminary games in the tri-series, yet collapsed and lost their last three matches against England to leave question marks over their chances to win a third straight World Cup.

"Australia's World Cup campaign is unravelling in embarrassing fashion after England romped to victory in the tri-series finals," The Australian newspaper said.

"It was a humiliating end to a summer of almost total domination by Australia, with the number one ranked one-day team in the world flogged when it mattered by a side ranked eighth.

"The four selectors, who are due to finalise a 15-man World Cup touring party this week, suddenly have much to think about.

"But not only do the Australians now look mortal for one of the few times in the summer, the World Cup holder looks distinctly vulnerable."

The Daily Telegraph said while Australia's collapse has been unpredictable, the resurgence of the England team, beset by injuries and form lapses, has been astounding.

"While England were celebrating their unlikely victory, the world champion Australians were surveying the wreckage of a dominant summer gone horribly wrong," the newspaper said.

"With the World Cup just a month away, Australia's momentum has run off the rails and is lying in a ditch with key players injured, out of form or mentally fatigued.

"In losing their third match to England in 10 days, Australia have gone from unbackable favourites for the World Cup to a side that rival nations will no longer fear to meet when the business end of the Caribbean showdown begins.

"But just as Australia's slide into mediocrity has been almost unpredictable, England's remarkable rise from the depths of Ashes humiliation has been equally astounding."


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