Ponting excited about Pakistan game

Australian captain Ricky Ponting is upbeat about his team’s next game against Pakistan in Colombo

Colombo: Mar 17, 2011

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was looking forward to the champions being tested by Pakistan in their final group match of the World Cup.

Australia already through to the quarter-finals, and bidding for a fourth straight title, made it 34 games unbeaten at the World Cup with a seven-wicket thrashing of Canada on Wednesday to go top of Group A.

Now Ponting’s men tackle a typically mercurial Pakistan in Colombo on Saturday. “It’s always a great challenge playing against Pakistan because, as everybody knows, you’re just never really sure what they’re going to turn up and do on the day,” he said.

“They can be a very, very good side one day and, as we saw against New Zealand, they can be very, very ordinary the next. They have that sort of unpredictability about them. The last game they played in Colombo was against Sri Lanka and they upset them there so they’ll know the conditions pretty well and, by the looks of things, they’ll play the conditions there pretty well.”

After restricting Canada to 211 on Wednesday, Australia raced to 212 for three with more than 15 overs to spare thanks to a first-wicket stand of 183 between Shane Watson (94) and Brad Haddin (88).

But non-Test nation Canada gave Pakistan and Australia’s opponents in the knockout stages hope when after winning the toss, they plundered the fastest team fifty of the tournament, off just 29 balls.

Teenage opener Hiral Patel defied Australia’s pace trio of Shaun Tait, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson with a dashing 54, with his half-century coming off just 37 balls with three sixes and five fours.

Ponting, however, was happy with the smooth conclusion of the match. “I guess it’s probably not ideal that we haven’t been pushed right to the wire with many of the games that we’ve played,” said Ponting, whose side are now the only unbeaten team at this World Cup.

“But I’m pretty confident in the players that no matter who we play in this tournament from here on, we’ll be hard to beat.”

He did admit that Australia’s new-ball bowling was a concern. “Against better teams and deeper batting orders, we have to make sure we don’t let teams get off to that sort of start,” he said.

“If you look at someone like (India’s Virender) Sehwag, he plays similar to the way that guy (Patel) played and if we let him get off to a start like that in a big game, it will be a lot harder to peg them back.”

Ponting, who praised 19-year-old Patel for being “savage on us” and hitting “some amazing shots”, lost his temper after taking a catch when, having seen Steven Smith nearly collide with him, he angrily threw the ball to the ground. “We both actually called for it at exactly the same time, which was why there was some confusion around,” Ponting explained.

“It wasn’t a great reaction I guess. But it certainly wasn’t designed to try to inspire the team or anything like that, or to make Steven look in any way in the wrong place or make him look silly. If it looked bad, then I apologise for it.”