Can Ponting lead Australia out of their spin woes?
February 24, 2011
February 25, Nagpur
Start time: 09:30 local time (04:00 GMT)
It's almost as if there is malicious glee that follows Australia's so-called decline. Ashes lost? Yay! Ricky Ponting accidentally breaks a TV set? What irresponsible behaviour! Australia are struggling against spinners? Wonderful! In some ways, it's human nature to gloat at Goliath's fall. At the centre of the storm is Ponting, trying hard to regain his batting form, trying to hide the Ashes blot in his CV with another World-Cup triumph. In Australia's previous victorious campaigns, Ponting has led from the front with the bat but this time a question mark hovers around that possibility. Australia's campaign in this edition of the World Cup could well revolve around Ponting's form at No. 3. He got couple of hard-earned fifties in the warm-up games and looked to be slowly progressing towards recovering his touch.
The bowling is led by another ageing campaigner, Brett Lee, who is scripting a remarkable comeback. Much has been written about Australia's attack which stands out for its naked violence. The feeling is that they will either scythe through the opposition or fail to control the run-flow on these batting tracks.
On the other side, there is New Zealand, who are playing this game under the grim background of the Christchurch earthquake. "For a lot of the guys, coming to training has allowed them to take their mind off things," Daniel Vettori said. New Zealand have had a poor build-up to the World Cup, but they started the tournament with a crushing win against Kenya. Their batting line-up looks quite strong with the likes of Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and Scott Styris and it's their bowling which looks a bit iffy. Will their seamers be able to adapt to these tracks? Much will depend on spinners Vettori and Nathan McCullum, who is likely to open the bowling with the new ball. New Zealand will hope that the pitch will take some turn and they can poke at Australia's vulnerability against spin on these slow tracks. It should be an interesting battle.
Form guide(Most recent first for the last five completed games)
New Zealand: LWLLL
Watch out for…Shane Watson's revival began here in India during the inaugural edition of the IPL. He adapted brilliantly and transformed himself into a smashing opener and took that form and confidence to the international stage. On Indian tracks, he likes to get on the front foot and scythe through the line. With Brad Haddin yet to learn the art of converting starts and with Ponting yet to get a regain his form completely, much will depend on Watson to set a solid platform.
Nathan McCullum is not a bowler who causes sleepless nights to batsmen but he could play a crucial role if Vettori decides to give him the new ball. He is accurate and spins the ball just enough to pose some problems. How he handles the pressure of bowling against Watson, Haddin and co might well decide how New Zealand fare with the ball.
Team newsNew Zealand have chosen their playing 12. Kyle Mills, Kane Williamson, and Luke Woodcock will miss out.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (wk), 3 Jesse Ryder, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin, 6 Scott Stryis, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Hamish Bennett, 11 Tim Southee
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 David Hussey, 6 Cameron White, 7 Steve Smith, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Jason Krezja, 10 Brett Lee, 11 Shaun Tait.
Try picking the XIs for tomorrow's game by playing Team Selector.
Stats and trivia
- Ricky Ponting is the player who has played the most World Cup games. He has played 40 matches, going past Glenn McGrath's 39 appearances. He has also led Australia 23 times, the second-highest by any World Cup captain, after New Zealand's Stephen Fleming (27). Australia are yet to lose a World Cup game under Ponting.
- In the game against Zimbabwe, Ponting became the fourth batsman in the World Cup to be run out on five occasions. The others are: Inzamam-ul-Haq (9), Asanka Gurusinha (6) and Javed Miandad (5)
- Australia have faced New Zealand 123 times and have won 84 games. In India, these two teams have played against each other seven times, with Australia victorious in all seven.
"Nothing really changes from any team you're playing in the subcontinent, you try and bowl straight at the wickets and you know you're going to have to score a lot of runs. There's no mystery to what we're going to try to do, but the key when you come up against these big teams and big players is having the presence of mind to execute time and time again. That's the toughest thing when you're coming up against good players."
Daniel Vettori on facing Australia