Australia~~s best yet to come, says Ponting

Published: Friday, April 13, 2007, 6:21 [IST]
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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AFP):Australia captain Ricky Ponting has sounded a warning to his World Cup opponents, saying his unbeaten team are still capable of raising the bar in the remaining matches.

"We'd like to think that we are nowhere near playing our best cricket just yet. I've been happy with what we have done so far and I'm not surprised at all by what we've done," said the Australian captain.

"I know none of the individual players in our side are surprised by what they have done. Matthew Hayden has had a great World Cup, Michael Clarke has been terrific so far and Shaun Tait has been very good.

"Until we get to the stage where some of our individual players are surprising themselves, or surprising me, then we have not played our best cricket yet."

No team have so far seriously tested defending champions Australia, who have eight points from four matches and are just one victory short of making it to the semi-finals.

Australia are expected to be challenged in their last two matches against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, who also need one more win to make sure of a place in the semi-finals.

"I think it would be great (to be tested). They are the two form teams, so it's really going down to the business end of the tournament," said Ponting.

"We have set very high standards. We have got some big games coming which make the event more exciting, makes our preparations very exciting as well."

Australia are likely to face their first biggest test in Greneda on Monday when they clash with Sri Lanka, another team having an all-round depth to surprise the opposition.

Mahela Jayawardene's Sri Lankans have lost just one of their first six matches in the tournament.

They, however, suffered a setback when they lost wicket-taking fast bowler Lasith Malinga due to an ankle injury for the game against New Zealand.

"He (Malinga) has been very important for them. He and Chaminda Vaas have taken early wickets right through the tournament. He has been very good for them in the powerplays," said Ponting.

"He has reverse-swung the ball well and nearly stole a victory against South Africa. He is a dangerous bowler and the conditions here suit these type of bowlers.

"But to be favourites, you have to have the depth in the side, and they have fast bowlers Dilhara Fernando and Farveez Maharoof."

Australia are set to become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals when they meet debutants Ireland here on Friday, but Ponting said there was no room for complacency against the Cup debutants.

"I don't think there should be any complacency in the World Cup. I think complacency is just a media term and I really don't see how anyone can play cricket for Australia and be complacent," said Ponting.

"I think this is one more opportunity for us to impose ourselves on this tournament and show everybody how good a team we are. That's the way we approach this game."

The Australian skipper was all praise for Ireland and Bangladesh, saying the two teams had played good cricket to advance to the Super Eights.

"I am quite pleased to see Ireland here at the moment and Bangladesh causing some upsets. It's good for the game," said Ponting.

"Sure, it was a surprise that India and Pakistan didn't progress further in the tournament. Ireland and Bangladesh are the sides who played better cricket when they had to."

Both the teams sprang big surprises with Ireland beating Pakistan and Bangladesh defeating India in group games last month.

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