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World must regroup against Aussies

Revenge is foremost in the minds of World XI, which must win on Friday to keep three-match Super Series alive.
PTI | By Associated Press, Melbourne
UPDATED ON OCT 07, 2005 06:15 PM IST

Now they've experienced it as individuals and as a team.

Losing to Australia hurts either way, just ask New Zealand offspinner Daniel Vettori or South African allrounder Shaun Pollock. So, combining to get some revenge on Australia is foremost in the minds of the World XI, which must win on Friday to keep cricket's three-match limited-overs Super Series alive.

The credibility of the concept -- the top team in the world vs the top players from the rest of the world -- depends on it, Vettori concedes.

"We try not to think about those things, but we realize how important it is that we put up a much improved performance," he said.

Local concerns that the Australians would be vulnerable after an upset Ashes series loss to England eased on Wednesday when the two-time defending World Cup champions thrashed the World XI by 93 runs. Now, all the pressure is on Pollock's combination, which contains players like England's Ashes star Andrew Flintoff, West Indies batsman Brian Lara and Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan. Vettori took a match-best 4-33 on Wednesday, combining with Muralitharan to check Australia's rapid-fire start. The World XI batsmen collapsed to be all out for 162 chasing 256 to win. Vettori said his figures reflected his attitude to the game, and that he holds the series on par with representing his country. "There was immense desire in our team to win, the only reason we're here is to win," Vettori said. "There's a lot of us who've been on the receiving end of hidings from Australia in the past, this is our chance to put that right."

"We obviously saw Australia come out with a huge amount of intensity. But by no means were we not wanting to win as much as they were."

Vettori said the World XI had to work together to unsettle the Australians and overcome some confusion in the batting order. "Maybe we tried to win the game too early. With such a star-studded batting lineup, guys are used to taking responsibility on themselves to win the game," he said. But, "with so many good batsmen, you can take your time a little bit more and build partnerships, that's what wins most cricket games. "Whilst we've all had our individual success, a majority of teams win games because they play as a team. That's what Australia did. We have to match that if we want to challenge." Vettori said the World team had little time to regroup, so it was unlikely a rotation selection policy would be implemented. South Africa paceman Makhaya Ntini and West Indies batsman Chris Gayle didn't play in the first game.

Australian opener Simon Katich, who top scored with 58 and shared an 80-run opening stand with Adam Gilchrist (45), said winning was like releasing a pressure valve following the backlash from the Ashes.

"It was a couple of weeks in the making," he said. "After the Ashes, we were all really disappointed ... it was nice to be able to start the (southern) season well," he said.

"Even though it's a different version of the game, it's nice to get off to a good start against what is a very talented side." Katich, who'd played only 18 previous one-day internationals and was replacing Matt Hayden at the top of the order, said he was nervous initially facing speedsters Shoaib Akhtar, Pollock, Flintoff and Jacques Kallis and spinners like Vettori and Muralitharan. "Most of the guys I've played against, collectively, it was tougher," he said. "There's no let up in their bowling attack. There was definitely a few nerves floating around. They were definitely up for it, no doubt. I'm sure they'll come back hard."

The second and third match, on Sunday, are at Melbourne's indoor Docklands Stadium. A six-day Super Test starts on October 14 in Sydney.


Australia (from): Adam Gilchrist, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (captain), Damien Martyn, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Andrew Symonds, Cameron White, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clarke, James Hopes.

World XI (from): Virender Sehwag, Kumar Sangakkara, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock (captain), Daniel Vettori, Muttiah Muralitharan, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Makhaya Ntini, Chris Gayle.

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