Ponting: Pressure on Windies
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has challenged West Indies to cope with the pressure in Sunday’s ICC Champions Trophy final.
While Australia are seasoned showpiece participants as winners of the past two World Cups, current Trophy holders West Indies have less experience of the big-match environment.
Ponting believes that will be a major factor when the two teams clash for the second time in the tournament at the Brabourne Stadium.
When the teams met in the DLF Cup final in Malaysia in September the Australians’ know-how helped them to a crushing victory.
“The fact is we have been in this position many times,” said Ponting.
“We have won more titles, one-day tournaments, World Cups than any other team - certainly a lot more than West Indies have.
“We know how to win big games and we will see how West Indies cope with the pressure tomorrow (Sunday).
“We are excited about winning the second-biggest tournament you can as a one-day team.”
The ‘mini-World Cup’ is the one piece of silverware which has eluded Australia over the years, and the clash with Brian Lara’s men is their first venture to the final.
Intriguingly, their one defeat here came at the hands of the Windies who recovered from an early slump to post a competitive total and then held their nerve in the field to prevail by 10 runs.
Like in other matches in Mumbai during this past month, ball dominated bat - which raised concerns about the pitch’s suitability to host a major match.
But the International Cricket Council are confident that work carried out by English pitch expert Andy Atkinson should have the desired effect.
“It was one of the hardest wickets to bat on in the first few games. But they have not played there for a while - which has given them some time to sort it out,” said Ponting, whose side overcame their batting slump impressively in subsequent encounters.
“Over the last couple of weeks we feel we have played some really good cricket, and each performance has been improved on - so I hope we will put in our best one tomorrow (Sunday).”
Australia are considering a recall for spinner Brad Hogg, in spite of the success of their five-pronged pace attack.
Whichever XI Australia put out, however, Ponting is aware that his own collective will be up against a unit which has gelled after an age of unfulfilled promise.
“Their form was up and down, but here their individual players have become more consistent,” he reflected.
“They are not relying on one or two - they are getting much more even contributions throughout the team.
“The best two teams have made it through to the final.”