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Punter bats for healthy rivalry

cricket Updated: Sep 24, 2008 23:28 IST

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The bad blood of the last summer still fresh in mind, Australia captain Ricky Ponting does not want acrimony to vitiate his team’s healthy rivalry with India in the forthcoming Test series.

Before leaving for India to play a four-match Test series, Ponting told reporters in Sydney that he expected both the sides to play the game in the right spirit.

“There’s been a very healthy rivalry between India and Australia in one-day and Test cricket and our last few Test encounters have been very good and some very close results,” Ponting told reporters before leaving for India with a 15-member squad. “Hopefully, this is another great series played in the right spirit,” he said.

Last time the teams locked horns Down Under, the racism row in Sydney, featuring Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds, threatened to split the world of cricket before good sense prevailed.

Relations between many rival players, however, hit rock bottom and Australian opener Matthew Hayden went on to describe Harbhajan as an “obnoxious weed” during the ODI series.

Ponting, however, hoped that the old wounds would not be reopened and said all issues would be thrashed out in the customary pre-series meeting featuring both captains and officials.

The Australian skipper did not deny security apprehensions following serial blasts in Delhi, but also reposed full faith in Cricket Australia’s decision to go ahead with the tour. “I’ve done it all day today, I’ve had a lot of discussions with my wife today about those exact issues,” Ponting said. “Our advice was not to go to Pakistan and the advice that we received the last few weeks to tour India has been positive,” Ponting added.

More than security situation, what bothers Ponting is his dismal record in India and the Australian looked keen to make amends this time.

“I’ve had a couple of disappointing Test series in India. In 2001, I made next to no runs. The last series over there that we won, I broke my thumb and missed the first three Tests and came back for the last one, and that was the only one we lost,” Ponting said.

“It’s certainly a void in my cricket resume in India and I’m obviously hoping to rectify that over the next six or seven weeks,” he said, oozing optimism.

Of the 15 players, only four have some experience of playing Test cricket in India but Ponting is not losing sleep over that.

“There’s no doubt India have got a lot more experience than we have going into this series. But I think we made too much of the conditions in India a lot of the time before we get there,” he said.