Ponting eyeing clean sweep against India

Published: Friday, June 15, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:India's disastrous World Cup campaign, the ongoing coach conundrum and fading superstars have led Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting to harbour hopes of a clean sweep when the World Champions take on the Men in Blue in a seven-ODI series beginning September this year.

''Hopefully, we'll win every game in the series,'' Ponting told reporters here today.

''(Although) India will be coming in to the series after playing a lot of games (in Ireland and England). Whereas, we will kick off our season right after playing the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.

''It's gonna be a tough series and we expect a good fight from India,'' the two-time World Cup winning captain said.

India will face Australia at home in a seven-match home series that gets under way in Bangalaore on September 29.

Ponting also expected India to struggle against England in the upcoming Test series.

''England are playing very good cricket. Although the West Indies have been affected by Brian Lara's retirement. India may find the going tough against England in alien conditions,'' opined Ponting.

Besides, he said, India were going to England sans a professional coach and that would put added pressure on the players. He advocated that the BCCI should appoint a full-fleged coach rather than having stog-gap managers.

"A professional coach, who can think outside the square and keep challenging you constantly, is the need of the hour. That's what John Buchanan did to us. India need something of that sorts, it doesn't matter whether he's an Indian, Australian, South African or an Englishman, he's to be a good man manager.'' He, however, admitted that a coach was as good as his players.

Meanwhile, Ponting, 33, expressed concern that players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V V S Laxman were ageing and worthy replacements were not in sight.

''They all will retire at around the same time and it would leave a gaping hole in the team. Your board should be concerned about it.

''I think, the Australian selectors have done a wonderful job in this regard. At constant intervals, they kept infusing fresh blood and the retirement of senior players didn't make much of a difference,'' he said.

On Tendulkar, Ponting said the Mumbaikar was still the prized wicket for the Australians.

''He's the best batsman I've ever played against and, probably, also the best I've ever seen. He's one in the Indian team we always want to see back to the pavilion as soon as possible,'' he said.

On art of captaincy, he said how good a skipper was, should be judged by the fact that how well he connects with the fellow players off the field.

He refused to comment on Dravid's abilities as a captain and said he would only be to able judge it after they'd played against each other more.


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