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April 20, 2007
Ricky Ponting believes Brad Hogg will play a key role when Australia take on South Africa in Wednesday's semi-final in St Lucia. Hogg, the left-arm wrist spinner, took 4 for 29 as Australia thrashed New Zealand by 215 runs in Grenada and only Glenn McGrath (22) is ahead of Hogg's 19 wickets in the tournament.
"South Africa probably won't play a spinner in their side," Ponting said. "Those conditions and the way our spin bowlers are going, probably give us a bit of an edge."
Ponting also said New Zealand were fooling nobody but themselves in their attempts to downplay the defeat. Stephen Fleming tried to minimise the impact of the largest loss inflicted upon a Test nation at the World Cup, saying his side would just "wipe it off".
"I'd rather be in our dressing room than theirs," Ponting said. "I'm sure they will be having all sorts of meetings over the next few days to talk about today's game.
"If they don't think that's going to affect them at all, then how is any psychological edge ever gained in any game? If we don't take something out of today's game, nobody ever can. We've just beaten New Zealand by 215 runs in a World Cup game, so they've got a lot of thinking to do."
Fleming said the one positive was they did not waste a good performance. "We haven't wasted anything at all really, so we're just going to get up, wipe it off and look forward," he said. "Now it comes down to two games, and if we start analysing too much we won't look forward to what is coming up - we have an opportunity to win two games for the World Cup."
Australia's imposing total of 348 for 6, against a New Zealand side missing Shane Bond and Jacob Oram, was built around Matthew Hayden's 103 and half-centuries for Ponting and Shane Watson."We knew they'd have a weakened attack going into the game," Ponting said. "We knew if we kept our partnership going we'd get a lot of bad balls.
"Our batting has been excellent and it's getting better at the crucial part of this tour. It's a really exciting time."
Fleming said his side was totally outplayed. "Once again, we've gone for more than 340," he said. "It is a concern. It happened twice in New Zealand, and again here. If you keep going for that many runs, the flip side is at some point you are going to get bundled out cheaply."
However, Fleming is confident Bond and Oram will be back for the semi-final against Sri Lanka on Tuesday. "We are a dangerous side," he said. "We can play like we did today, or we can play a semi-final and chase down 350. We are even more dangerous now that we have two games to win."
Asked if South Africa could beat Australia Fleming replied: "I do and that's because it's a one-off game. It could be the toss, Australia have a bad day or Herschelle Gibbs plays extremely well. There are so many factors in one day cricket."
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