Ponting promises sensational show
Aussies will aim a unique hat-trick of World Cup victories in a grudge match when they meet the 1996 champions.cricket Updated: Apr 26, 2007 15:08 IST
Australia captain Ricky Ponting promised a World Cup final performance against Sri Lanka to match the occasion after reducing South Africa to the ranks of also-rans on Wednesday.
The Australian bowlers dismissed their semi-final opponents for a paltry 149 then Michael Clarke, identified by Ponting as one of the players who had made the most progress during the tournament, anchored a seven-wicket win with 60 not out.
Australia will be aiming for a unique hat-trick of World Cup victories when they meet the 1996 champions in Barbados on Saturday.
"Today was the best in our World Cup tournament so far," Ponting told a news conference. "To bowl them out for that total on that wicket was definitely our best performance.
"I think we have maintained really high skill levels throughout the tournament. When the big teams come out we stand up and I'm sure we will do that on Saturday."
Ponting, whose team are unbeaten in the World Cup since losing to Pakistan in the 1999 edition, returned to one of his pre-match themes when he said the Australian players were still challenging themselves to perform better.
"We will be talking about winning the final, we will be talking about executing good skills and the results will take care of themselves," he said.
South Africa, who briefly supplanted Australia as the world's top team this year, were left playing for pride once they crashed to 27 for five after winning the toss and opting to bat.
They were confronted by good pace bowling, notably from Shaun Tait (four for 39) and Glenn McGrath (three for 18).
But their top batsmen, in particular captain Graeme Smith and his senior batsman Jacques Kallis, also played indifferent strokes, raising questions again about their mental approach when they play Australia.
Not for the first time Smith rejected suggestions that South Africa had choked on a big occasion.
"To me choking is when you get close to winning," he said. "We just didn't play well, there were one or two loose shots".
"Tait as first change as a strike bowler does make life a little difficult."
Ponting said reducing South Africa to 27 for five in the 10th over had been a tremendous start.
"We had them under pressure from the first over of the game," he said. "They came out really aggressive and really positive.
"Sometimes that comes off in one-day cricket, sometimes it doesn't. I must admit we wanted them to come out hard."
The Australia captain said there was still more to come from his team, who have not once been seriously confronted for 100 overs during the past seven weeks.
"We are doing a lot of things really well at the moment," he said. "Whether what we are doing is better than last World Cup, I'm not sure.
"There's no doubt that out skills in the tournament have been exceptional."