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Lara will be targeted by confident Aussies

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2007 01:04 IST
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Australia will see Brian Lara as the main hurdle in their race towards an unprecedented third successive World Cup title when they meet West Indies in the first of the second-stage matches on Tuesday.

Australia's progress to the Super Eights of the tournament has so far been serene with comfortable victories in all of their Group A games including an eventually emphatic 83-run thumping of top ranked South Africa on Saturday.

Lara's West Indies have possibly not shown quite the ruthless form of Ricky Ponting's men but they too arrive here with a 3-0 perfect record from Group D, their opening-day victory helping to knock out Pakistan.

Lara, a thorn in the side of most teams during his illustrious career which has brought him high-scoring records in both test and first class cricket, will be the man the Australians fear most.

As usual, he plans to take the Australian challenge face on. "It is the thing that actually drives me," he told a news conference on Monday.

"The thought that the opposition is going to come after the so-called key player. That's the thing that brings a positive response from somebody like myself."

'very confident'

He was realistic enough to concede that Australia are most people's favourites, not only to defeat the hosts but also to carry home the trophy.

"I think we still have a lot of work to do to match the skills of the Australia team," said Lara.

"We are dangerous, but they are more dangerous. They are playing at their best, and I can tell from the way they are playing that they are here to make it a hat-trick of wins. They are very confident in their ability."

Unlike St Kitts, which was a batting paradise for Australia in the group stage, the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium should offer some early pace for the bowlers with the new ball and a sensibly sized outfield.

Ponting, typically, was in confident mood on Monday. "If we play like we did (against South Africa) I think they'll have a lot to fear," he told a news conference.

"But that is up to us. I think it will take a performance similar to the one we had the other day if we are going to beat them."