Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Ponting hoping for a repeat thrashing of Pakistan

AFP , JOHANNESBURG

Australian captain Ricky Ponting put up a brave front, but it is clear the defending champions have no idea what to expect when they face Pakistan in their opening World Cup clash next Tuesday.

Ponting hoped the result would be the same as four years ago when the Australians, then led by Ponting's predecessor Steve Waugh, thrashed Pakistan by eight wickets in the 1999 World Cup final at Lord's.

The two teams have been drawn in the same preliminary league group this time and are due to face each other at the Wanderers on Tuesday in what is being billed as a key match of the tournament.

"That'll be nice, yeah, that's what we are hoping for," Ponting said when reminded of the Lord's final.

The world champions were planning a full-scale assault on Pakistan, playing what spin wizard Shane Warne referred to as "the only cricket we know -- hard and aggressive."

But it was evident the Australians were worried what the brilliant, but unpredictable, Pakistanis would throw at them.

Ponting conceded Tuesday's opener was utmost on the players' minds.

"We can't think any further ahead," he said. "If we did, we would not be paying enough attention on what we need to do in our first game.

"It's about as simple and as complicated as it gets at the moment, our focus is on Pakistan."

The Australians will pay special attention to the Pakistani pace power in the form of captain Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar.

"These guys have a very strong bowling line-up," he said. "If conditions suit them they are very dangerous and can take early wickets.

"So we have to make sure that we can get through the new ball and hopefully take it from there."

Ponting conceded Akhtar was the dangerman in the rival camp.

"He's just a very, very dangerous bowler," the Australian captain said. "We know that we need to get through those tough spells and hopefully he doesn't do too much damage."

Ponting revealed his team had special plans for every Pakistani bowler and batsman.

"We will come up with some plans for their batsmen and bowlers and perform those plans on the day."

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