Ponting losing sleep over upcoming India series

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Sydney: Even after clinching a 2-0 scoreline against Sri Lanka in the recently concluded series, Ricky Ponting is losing sleep over the forthcoming India's tour 'Down Under' and believes that the Indian's will be no pushovers.

Ponting's team, is currerntly chasing his predecessors Steve Waugh's record of 16 consecutive Tests from 1999 to 2001. His team is currently enjoying 14 straight wins, two short of the record.

But it will not be a cakewalk for the Oz with India coming good in its previous outing when it levelled the series 1-1 in the four match series.

''I think right at the moment India are probably a slightly stronger side than Sri Lanka and last time India were here in Australia they played very well against us and we were a very good team at that time,'' Ponting said.

''But it's up to us to start the Melbourne Test (on Dec 26-30) the same way we started the Brisbane Test (against Sri Lanka) and hopefully we can get on top of them early and stay there for the rest of the summer,''32-year-old said.

Punter has also taken into consideration India's fast improving record outside the sub-continent. India has recently won the Test series against England after 21 years.

''They've just come off a very good away series win against England so they'll have a little bit of confidence about them and I'm sure they'll bring that to Australia,'' Ponting was quoted as saying by the Australian Associate of Press.

The Australian skipper also said while his bowlers would be under pressure, India's new captain Anil Kumble will feel the heat.

''Kumble will be under pressure coming to Australia,'' Ponting said.

''Anyone who captains the Indian cricket team is always under a lot of pressure.

''A lot of very, very good players in the past haven't been able to cope with that. (Sachin) Tendulkar probably didn't ever really want to do it, I don't think.

''Rahul Dravid did it for a short period of time. When he resigned he said he just wasn't enjoying the role.

''There's no doubt that he (Kumble) will be under some sort of pressure.'' In the same breath he also added that the Indians can only be put under pressure if Australia 'play well enough'.

''They are only under pressure if we play well enough. That's the thing.'' Reiterating age old Australians strategy of putting the captain of the opposition team under pressure so as to affect the team in general, Ponting said, ''If we play well and start the series well ... generally we can put the captain under pressure.''

However, he was wary of India's ageing stars. ''Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Tendulkar are all very good players and they have all done well against Australia in the past,'' he said. ''We know how dangerous they can be.

With Glenn McGrath out injured and Shane Warne suspended, Australia's bowling attack lacked the firepower to consistently get 20 wickets against India in its previous series Down Under four years ago.

But with Brett Lee's 16 wickets to win player-of-the-series against Sri Lanka and newcomer Mitchell Johnson slotting in well as a new-ball option along with reliable seamer Stuart Clark, Australia's bowling shapes up well, though the fitness of leg-spinner MacGill remains a concern for Ponting.

Ponting says he's confident that MacGill, 36, can hold his place in the side if he can overcome a knee complaint.


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