Ponting turns up heat

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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.’’

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