Australia captain Ricky Ponting insists his world champions are ready to face down Sri Lanka's veteran bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas in tomorrow's World Cup final.
Australia have already beaten Sri Lanka in the tournament when they won their Super Eights clash by seven wickets in Grenada 10 days ago.
But the Asian side courted controversy by resting Muralitharan and Vaas, two of the survivors from the team which beat Australia in the 1996 final.
"Sri Lanka have a chance to make a statement against us," Ponting said after Australia eased into a fourth successive final with a seven-wicket win over South Africa. "There's no doubt Sri Lanka are a good team, but we are very confident after what we've done in the last seven weeks. Winning games with big margins gives us a lot of confidence."
"I think we executed our game plan very well the last time we played them. They had their full batting line-up and we bowled them out," Ponting added. "We know Murali will do what he does. Lasith Malinga is bowling well and Vaas is a good bowler with the new ball."
Australia have won all of their 10 matches so far in the Caribbean and are unbeaten in their last 28 Cup matches, a run stretching back to the 1999 tournament in England.
Tomorrow's showdown in Barbados will be a repeat of the 1996 final when the islanders beat Mark Taylor's Australians by seven wickets in Lahore.
Ponting's confidence is further boosted by the manner of Australia's win over South Africa.
Proteas skipper Graeme Smith won the toss and chose to bat, but inside 10 overs his team were 27-5 before they were finally bowled out for just 149.
The Australia skipper hailed it as the best performance so far, but believes they can top it in the final.
"We are not saying we are unbeatable. We certainly can be beaten if we don't do things well," Ponting said.
"South Africa are a very good team, and we think we have got some improvements to come. But when the bigger games come, the Australian team stands up. We did that and I hope we will do it in the final," he added.
Australia reduced Wednesday's semi-final to a no-contest when they bowled out the opposition with more than 18 overs to spare. The total of 149 was South Africa's lowest in World Cup history.
But Ponting refuses to believe that South Africa choked.
"One-day cricket can be that way sometimes. I've never used the word in my life and I won't. They were outplayed by a better team, as simple as that and it was a big occasion," he said. "It's a World Cup semi-final. They came out really aggressive and very positive and tried to force themselves on the game. Sometimes in one-dayers it comes off and other times it doesn't."
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being