Aussies tune up for cricket semi-final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Aussies tune up for cricket semi-final

By Greg Buckle 31/10/2006 05:37:21 AM Comments (0)

Australia will have a final hit-out at the Mohali ground in preparation for the Champions Trophy semi-final against New Zealand.

The Australia squad had a rest day after beating India by six wickets in Mohali on Sunday night.

Topping Group A meant Ricky Ponting's side could stay in Mohali after having already spent a week based nearby in Chandigarh, the capital of the Punjab state in northern India.

The other semi-final will be played on Thursday between South Africa (Group B winner) and West Indies (second in Group A) in Jaipur.

An Australian team spokesman said batsman Michael Clarke, who had missed several training sessions last week with tonsillitis but was passed fit to play against India, had pulled up fine from the match.

All-rounder Shane Watson, who was hospitalised last week for a severe gastritis attack and was forced to bat with a runner after suffering leg cramp in his innings of 50 on Sunday, is also fine.

The news is not so good in the New Zealand camp, with Scott Styris struggling to overcome a back injury.

Styris made 101 when the two teams last met, as the Black Caps claimed the dead-rubber match in the three-game Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series in Christchurch in December 2005. New Zealand scored a then world record successful run chase of 8-332, ending a losing streak of eight matches against Australia.

Ponting says Australia is desperate to advance to the final in the Champions Trophy for the first time. Australia's best finish in four previous attempts is reaching the semi-finals in 2002 and 2004.

"Looking at the way we've played in our last couple of games, you'd think we'd be able to play better this time around," Ponting said of Australia's third successive semi-final appearance.

"There is no excuses now for us. We've got a good team, we've got a full list of guys to pick from and we're playing a semi-final at a venue that we've just played a game in.

"Hopefully we can take one step further than we did last time around.

"We probably can't complain with the way things have worked out for us."

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