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Ponting expects lively final

NatWest Series
Ricky Ponting

Ricky Ponting is looking forward to a Lord's return

Ricky Ponting believes the intense Anglo-Aussie rivalry rather than Tuesday's Edgbaston fall-out will ensure a fierce showdown at Lord's on Saturday.

The Australia captain leads his team out at a ground which has been their most successful on the international circuit ready for another tense tussle with England.

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The sides go into the NatWest Series final with one win apiece from the group stages and that abandoned match in Birmingham which was also been remembered for the incident between Matthew Hayden and Simon Jones.

“The whole series apart from that one little incident has been fantastic, it has been built up and built up as a special rivalry going into this final game,” said Ponting.

“But it will be an intense game just for the fact it is a one-day final and it is Australia and England.

“As players you want to be in those really intense contests, especially at the highest level. I expect tomorrow (Saturday) will be played that way but I am sure there will be nothing out of line.”

Hayden has twice been dismissed cheaply this week but Ponting expects a response from the powerful opening batsman.

“How will he respond? He will respond as well as he possibly can.

Matthew Hayden

Ponting has backed Matthew Hayden to bounce back from a couple of poor innings © Getty Images

“He is a very tough individual mentally and an exceptional player both in one-day cricket and in Test cricket.

“What we have seen from Matthew throughout this tour so far, from being in the same dressing room with him, is some of his best batting for a long time, I know he will be extra keen to do well because it is a final.”

Australia's record in St John's Wood is quite astounding. Their unbeaten Test record stretches back to 1934, a sequence of eight victories in 17 matches while they have lost only once in 20 years in one-day cricket - tellingly to England in 1997.

Ponting, who was not in that side, said: “I think Australians in general really enjoy coming and playing at Lord's.

“Obviously it is a great ground, the home of cricket and a lot of tradition goes with playing here.

“Australian players do care and understand a lot about the traditions of the game.

“The other side is that we have had a great deal of success here, whether it be Test matches or the World Cup final.

"When you have good memories of a ground it feels like a nice place to come even when you sit in the changing rooms and take up your traditional spot.”

Glenn McGrath

Glenn McGrath is set to return to the side after being rested against Bangladesh © Getty Images

The Australians are likely to recall Glenn McGrath who was rested for the six-wicket win over Bangladesh at Canterbury on Thursday, and Brad Hogg, who was laid low with a virus.

And they are expecting to have to perform at their best to claim the first significant prize of the Ashes summer.

“We want to keep improving our standards and tomorrow (Saturday) is a great opportunity to do that,” said Ponting.

“This team has managed to raise the bar in big matches every time they have been confronted with one over the last five or six years.

“As a player you want to be tested when you are playing at the highest level, at every facet of your game.

“We have been tested over the past couple of weeks and I am sure we will be as the summer goes on.”

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