ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
India will be hard to beat - Ponting
March 27, 2011
Though Sri Lanka and Pakistan could argue over which nation enjoyed the most gilted path to the World Cup semi-finals, their wide margins of victory have not dissuaded Australia captain Ricky Ponting from regarding India as the tournament's most likely winner.
Arriving home from the least successful Cup campaign of his long career - having either won the tournament or made the final on every other occasion - Ponting reckoned MS Dhoni's team had the batting power to surmount all remaining opposition. An obstinate Ponting summoned all his reserves of concentration to fashion a century in his side's quarter-final against India in Motera, only to see a fair total reeled in without undue difficulty by the cultured blade of Yuvraj Singh.
"India are going to be hard to beat," he told reporters in Sydney. "They are a very powerful team, there's no doubt about that, their bowling probably hasn't quite hit its straps as much as they would like yet, but their batting is very good.
"No surprise Sri Lanka today, everyone probably picked that, although the margin is quite surprising and I think they are going to be right in it now. I think Sri Lanka will beat New Zealand and I think India will beat Pakistan and if it ends up being an India Sri Lanka final it will be a great game of cricket."
Australia's return home from the subcontinent called for plenty of difficult questions about the composition of the Cup squad and the conduct of the campaign, but Ponting mounted a staunch defence on both counts. Of the squad, he argued injuries had pushed the national selectors into a pace-oriented corner, something that had worked on simililary slow pitches in the Caribbean four years ago.
"As we know before we left with Nathan Hauritz going down and Xavier Doherty going down as well we didn't have any other spinning options we could take away with us," Ponting said. "Shaun Tait was one of our trump cards in the last World Cup in fairly similar conditions to what we faced in this World Cup and Brett [Lee] was the pick of our bowlers through the [limited overs portion of] summer.
"Mitch [Johnson] has that real x-factor about him that you need in tournaments as such as a World Cup. We had who we had in terms of who we could pick. If you look at the other teams that are left in the tournament now they are probably doing it a slightly different way to what we did. A lot of them are only playing their two quicks and having more spinning options but unfortunately for us we never had that luxury when we left."
As for his run-ins with a Motera television set and young allrounder Steve Smith in Bangalore, Ponting was equal parts bemused and indignant. "One happened inside the supposed sanctity of the change rooms which was a totally accidental thing that happened in there," he said. "As I said I regretted the damage that was caused at the time but absolutely didn't mean it whatsoever.
"I think the second one is something that has been blown completely out of all proportion: me having an on-field spat with one of my team mates couldn't be any further from the truth. I mean I didn't even look in his direction, so I am not sure where that actually came from or how big a deal it actually turned into back here in Australia, but it just seemed every day I had to wake up and answer different questions about being frustrated about being over there and about what the team was doing or what I was doing but it certainly wasn't that.
"I was over there enjoying the World Cup for what it was and trying to get the best performances out of the team every day."