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Ponting happy with McGrath's form

06/10/2006 07:35:15 PM Comments (0)

Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting believes veteran fast bowler Glenn McGrath will improve further during the ICC Champions Trophy campaign.

McGrath returned to the national side last month after taking time off from January this year to support wife Jane in her battle with breast cancer.

The Australian team departed for India from Brisbane on Friday for the tournament, with its first match on October 18.

McGrath, 37, recorded modest returns of 1-73 during the DLF tournament in Malaysia but Ponting believes he is getting better.

"He bowled steadily and within himself in Kuala Lumpur and knew after that he wanted to get more overs under his belt, which is why you saw him play club cricket last weekend," Ponting said.

"He'll get the chance to bowl for a month in India, which is good.

"I thought his comeback in KL was pretty good and I expect him to keep improving as we move through the next month."

History is against Australia in the Champions Trophy with the side consistently faltering in the 10 team tournament, going no better than the semi-final stage in the four previous competitions.

Ponting, however, believes this might be the team's year to claim the only major trophy Australia's cricketers have yet to win on the world stage.

"I'm confident we've got a talented and confident squad going into this competition who really want to win it," he said.

"We've tended to have good success in one day cricket in India over the years and we know the kind of conditions to expect so we're not thinking about obstacles, we're concentrating on executing our plans each match."

Ponting is expecting tough competition for the title from South Africa and from the sub-continent sides.

"Sri Lanka will be competitive in India and you can't discount the home team on home soil," he said.

"Pakistan also have a good one day side."

The tournament will be another chance for allrounder Shane Watson to press his claims for a Test spot in the coming Ashes series with England.

"He's improving every game he plays - a really talented cricketer," Ponting said of Watson.

"He looked the part in Kuala Lumpur and is working hard on his game and getting reward for that work. If he keeps on improving he's got a bright future in both forms of the game."

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