We are frightening again, says Ponting - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

We are frightening again, says Ponting

By Greg Buckle 29/03/2007 06:57:33 PM Comments (0)

Ricky Ponting believes his World Cup opponents now fear Australia as much as ever.

Both South African captain Graeme Smith and West Indies great Brian Lara said earlier in the tournament that the defending champions had lost their aura of intimidation.

"Now we are pretty frightening again," Ponting said after Australia kicked off the Super Eights with a 103-run victory over the hosts in Antigua.

Australia have won their first four matches by an average margin of 154.5 runs, and Ponting believes they are on track for an unprecedented third straight World Cup.

Australia had come into the World Cup on a five-game losing streak and had conceded the No.1 ranking to South Africa.

Odds eased, doubts lingered.

"It's funny isn't it?," Ponting said.

"Two weeks ago everyone was saying it wasn't (frightening).

"So all of a sudden now we are pretty frightening again. It's a funny game.

"Our squad hasn't changed in that last four weeks either.

"We've expected to be able to come here and play the cricket that we've played.

"You sit back and read and listen about other sides saying they don't fear us, they don't fear anything that we've got to offer," Ponting continued.

"Sides that say that, they've got to go out and play a certain brand of cricket to back it up as well and the teams who have said it so far haven't done that."

Lara for one changed his tune after his side could muster only 219 in reply to Australia's 6-322, of which Matthew Hayden made 158.

"They have played four games so far, scored in excess of 300 runs each time," Lara said.

"They look like a team that came here for one purpose."

After rain delayed the start of the West Indies innings, left-arm wrist-spinner Brad Hogg (3-56) and retiring paceman Glenn McGrath (3-31) made short work of the home team, despite a stylish 77 from Lara.

Australia have five more matches to play in the Super Eights, starting with their clash with the Dav Whatmore-coached Bangladesh on Saturday in Antigua.

"If we keep working hard then I can't see why we can't keep improving right the way through this tournament," Ponting said.

"There's a great feeling around the group at the moment."

"One thing about this team, we've been able to beat teams comfortably over the years," Ponting said.

"But I think when the close games have come around is generally when we've been at our absolute best.

"Champion players, and we've got a lot of them in this side, generally play their best when it gets tight."

No one is riding higher than McGrath, whose three wickets take him to 54 in World Cup games, one behind the record of 55 set by Pakistan's Wasim Akram.

There's also Hogg, who shares with Sri Lankan slinger Lasith Malinga the title of leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far with 11 wickets.

"It's a special side to be a part of," said Hayden, who has made back-to-back centuries in Australia's past two games.

"It took a lot to get in this position. The support of Ricky and the coach (John Buchanan) and the selectors ... I'm just very happy for them and also for me that it is coming off right now.

As for Australia's form reversal, Hayden said: "We had a little dip in form towards the back end of the summer, but as (Buchanan) rightly said back then, that was the way we were playing and preparing for the World Cup."

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