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Young guns by his side, Punter hopes to win a tough wager

cricket Updated: Sep 22, 2010 00:28 IST
Ashutosh Sharma
Ashutosh Sharma
Hindustan Times
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The number four rank in the ICC tables is hurting Ricky Ponting and the Australian team badly. After dominating world cricket for almost a decade Ponting is desperate to get the number one ranking back and restore order. In his first interaction with the press after his arrival in India he minced no words in stating they are prepared to play best brand of cricket to get to the top spot.

“Yes, ranking does matter. We are ranked fourth, a position we are not familiar with. India are the number one side and I am looking forward to an intense contest,” he said.

Ponting doesn’t have fond memories of his tours to India as he still hasn’t led his side to victory here. It is a record he is desperate to correct.

“We have very important series (Ashes) coming ahead apart from this one. Then we have World Cup in the sub-continent. A good performance here will set the tone for the rest of our campaign,” the Oz skipper said.

The Australians have arrived with a relatively young pace attack, with three debutants Peter George (23 years), James Pattinson (20) and Mitchell Strac (20), but the skipper believes they have enough talent to serve the purpose of the team and will not be overawed by the Indian batting line-up.

“I don't mind testing these players against perhaps the best batting line-up in the world. Bowling in Indian conditions will be a great learning process for them. We will be able to get the most out of them in both formats of the game,” he said.

Ponting conceded that India are a good side and have a batting line-up which has remained almost unchanged for the last 10 years.

“They have formidable players in their batting line-up with lot of experience. The last Test series was very competitive and could have gone any way,” he said, adding, “It were their pacers that did the most of the damage.”

The Aussie skipper was, however, happy with the security arrangements in the wake of Delhi shootout and the general terrorist alert.

In reference to Pakistan, Ponting said banning a country is not the solution and image of cricket has taken a beating after these allegations.

“We need a strong Pakistani side playing in the cricket world. Banning will not get us to the solution of this mess. Instead ICC should move swiftly and get to the bottom of this,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Australian team had their first feel of the ground at the Sector 16 Stadium. Though heavy rains interrupted the session, the players did a little bit of stretching and played some football. There was no net session.