Ponting turns up heat
RICKY Ponting fired off a series of volleys at Sri Lanka on the eve of today’s World Cup clash, saying the pressure on the home side to win the Group A match was huge.
A u s t r a l i a ’ s u n b e a t e n s t r eak of 3 1 World Cup matches, dating back to May 23, 1999, goes on the line in a big way at Premadasa Stadium, but the relaxed Australian skipper is keen to exploit what he sees as a few cracks in Sri Lanka’s line-up.
Sri Lanka have made a mixed start to the tournament, winning two games but going down to Pakistan by 11 runs.
Paceman Lasith Malinga’s sensational 6-38, including a hat-trick, against minnows Kenya in Colombo, has been heavily analysed by t he Australians, while spinners Ajantha Mendis and world r e c o r d - h o l d e r M u t t i a h Muralidaran are also expected to cause problems for the defending champions.
However, Australia, with a trouble-free week of preparation following wins over Zimbabwe and New Zealand,
‘‘ You know the support they get and how good it can be when they are going well but when they aren’t going so well, I think they realise how harsh that support, or so-called support can be, be it public or media pressure.’’
Pressure is nothing new for 36-year-old Ponting, who guided Australia to unbeaten World Cup campaigns in 2003 and 2007.
He said ‘‘ it doesn’t get much bigger’’ than playing Sri Lanka in Colombo in a clash that could decide top spot in Group A ahead of the quarter-finals.
Ponting said pace slinger Malinga gave a perfect exhibition of yorker bowling against Kenya, but could come unstuck against Australia opener Shane Watson who is a noted driver down the ground.
‘‘ As a batting group, we’d like to think we can put a bit more pressure on him than the Kenyans did,’’ Ponting said.
‘‘ If he happens to stray a bit with his length we will pick him off.’’