Ponting wants more exposure for Australia team

Monday, 7 March 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

COLOMBO (AFP) - Skipper Ricky Ponting believes his team needs more exposure to the cut and thrust of the World Cup following lengthy interludes and a rained-off match against Sri Lanka.

The defending champions waited eight days to play Sri Lanka in their third match of the tournament and must kick their heels for another seven days before tackling Kenya in Bangalore next Sunday.

“It’s not ideal, but we have known there was a chance of that happening right the way through, before the tournament even started,” said Ponting after Saturday’s Group A match against Sri Lanka ended in no result.

Sri Lanka, who batted after winning the toss, were 146-3 after 32.5 overs before heavy rain forced the match to be called off at the R. Premadasa stadium.

Australia had beaten Zimbabwe by 91 runs in their opening match before winning their second against New Zealand by seven wickets, games in which their middle order had little exposure.

“If you look a bit deeper than that, some of our middle-order players haven’t got much exposure. We will have to think about what’s going to be the right thing for us to do as far as our team composition is concerned.

“I don’t want to be tinkering with things too much and changing things around too much, but after a game like on Saturday where you are 30 overs in and it’s washed out, it just makes us think that little bit more about it.”

Ponting said the loss of one point from Saturday’s washout would not make a difference to his team.

“Hopefully we can continue to win a few more games and hopefully not getting two points out here won’t affect us. I am not sure how it’s going to work for Sri Lanka, but I am not that concerned about that either.

“I am just concerned with how we’re doing and we have got another seven or eight-day break now before our next couple of games, so we have got to make sure we prepare well and get the points we need out of our next two fixtures.”

Ponting believed it would have been a difficult chase for his team, with Sri Lanka playing all their three spinners in Saturday’s match.

“I think it might have been a pretty good game of cricket. They had Sangakkara who played particularly well, and with 140 on the board, we felt like we needed to make another breakthrough before the ball change.

“I think we were only one breakthrough away, but saying that they had batted pretty well and it would have been a difficult run chase considering the way the wicket was playing and them playing with three spinners,” said Ponting.

Australia now have five points after three matches. Pakistan lead Group A with six points after three matches.

Ponting in spin over Colombo deck

Captain Ricky Ponting says he was taken by surprise at the spin-friendly nature of the Colombo pitch used for Australia’s World Cup clash with Sri Lanka.

Ponting described the pitch as “rolled mud”.

Sri Lanka named three frontline spinners for Saturday’s Group A match, which was washed out after the home side won the toss and reached 3-146 from 32.5 overs.

The 35,000 screaming fans at Premadasa Stadium didn’t get the chance to see Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath and world-record holder Muttiah Muralidaran put Australia in a spin. It was the first time the trio had played together in a one-day international.

But Ponting says it’s fair to say the home team’s slow bowlers would have found the pitch to their liking.

Australia have only one specialist spinner, Jason Krejza, who took 0-34 from 7.5 overs while part-time leggie Steve Smith bowled four overs for 17 runs.

“It was spinning considerably early in the first innings of the game, which doesn’t happen in most parts of the world in any tournament that you play in,” Ponting said.

“I was a bit surprised at the way it played.

“I used the spinners in tandem today because of how much the wicket was spinning.

“They looked like the most dangerous bowlers.

“That wicket is vastly different to the wickets that have been used in the previous games that have been played here in this World Cup so far.

“It seemed that they had a pretty good idea that it was going to be that slow and low and was going to spin a fair bit, hence the reason they played their spinners.

“Even when we turned up at the ground (on Friday) and had a look at the wicket, you could tell that it was going to be a lot different than the wicket that was played on the day before, because you could see that one right beside it.

“That one had a bit of grass on it, and the one we were going to use today was basically rolled mud.

“It appeared that this one was going to be a difficult one to chase run son.”

Ponting said winning the toss meant things were going to plan for Sri Lanka until the rain came.