Australia braced for Pietersen assault

Published: Sunday, April 8, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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ST JOHN'S, Antigua (AFP):Australia captain Ricky Ponting has insisted Glenn McGrath won't be worried if Kevin Pietersen goes down the pitch against him in the World Cup Super Eights clash here Sunday.

Pietersen repeatedly advanced against McGrath during England's recent tour of Australia in a bid to hit the 37-year-old, renowned more for his accuracy than extreme pace, off his line.

However, McGrath had the last laugh when he broke Pietersen's ribs in Melbourne during a one-dayer in January and so cut short the South Africa born batsman's tour.

Asked if he would be happy with a similar result on Sunday, Ponting replied: "It would be nice," before adding hastily: "No, look if we can have a result where he doesn't make many runs in the game, I'd be happy with that."

He added: "I think Kevin had a bit to say when he first arrived here about how he didn't think Glenn was quick enough to even break his ribs. So Glenn will test him them out again on Sunday."

Ponting also said he understood the tactics of Pietersen, now rated as the world's leading one-day batsman.

"As a batsman I know what he's trying to do. He's just trying to get down there and put the pressure back on the bowler. Any time any batsman starts moving around the crease before the bowler bowls all he is trying to do is get the bowler to think differently about what he's doing.

"It's no secret that quite a few players have tried to do that against McGrath because of the immaculate line and length he's bowled over the years. That's the reason Kevin does it.

"At the same time I don't mind seeing it because it changes up everything, the line and length and the pace the bowler is bowling at as well. If he tries to play big shots when he's coming down the wicket, we've got a chance to get him out.

"He's been their best player and most consistent run scorer for a couple of years now in one-day cricket so we'd like to keep him as quiet as we can. We just have to execute things well against him when he first comes to the crease."

In Pietersen's absence England still managed to beat world champions Australia 2-0 in the one-day triangular series final in February.

But their form in the Caribbean has been mediocre. They've yet to beat a Test side, although they came agonisingly close during a two-run defeat against 1996 champions Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Now, a reverse against an Australia side that has won all five of its matches at the tournament will further dent England's hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

However, Ponting insisted: "You don't talk about revenge. England deserved to win the games they won back in Australia. We weren't anywhere near our best and they played some good one-day cricket. As far as I'm concerned that's forgotten."

Australia had to cut short their optional batting practice at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium on Saturday after a power failure meant they couldn't use the bowling machine.

"I think Matty (Hayden) is still up there now trying to get the generator brought in to get some power to the nets," Ponting said.

"We've had some really good training sessions at the Recreation Ground and today is just a top-up day."

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