Wed, Oct 18, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Australia desperate for Champions Trophy success


Australia will fear the turning wicket more than their rivals when they make their Champions Trophy start today at a tournament they have never won.

Australia's opening match against the West Indies is at the Brabourne stadium where the dusty, slow wicket has been ridiculed by most teams who have played on it in recent days.

Brian Lara's West Indies could only muster 80 runs against Sri Lanka here Saturday and on Monday South African captain Graeme Smith slammed the pitch after his team went down to New Zealand by 87 runs.

Ricky Ponting's Australians are determined to take home the Champions Trophy, the only major silverware missing from their cupboard despite being the undisputed one-day kings, with back-to-back World Cup wins in 1999 and 2003.

The prolonged monsoon season that ended this month has prevented India from preparing traditional flat pitches that favor batsmen. Instead, the ball has ruled the bat.

Only Sri Lanka has passed 300 in the eight matches played, against lowly Bangladesh, a far cry from totals of more than 400 that have been achieved four times this year alone.

Veteran Australian batsman Damien Martyn conceded the world champions' biggest worry would be how the pitch played today.

"I was shocked because the practice wickets at the Brabourne stadium have been pretty good," Martyn said.

"We know it's going to turn, but the quicks were surprised by the lack of bounce and variation," he said. "Now we know that we're going to have to adjust to it, but it looks difficult."

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