Ponting: 6-1 was mere preparation
Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes the ICC Champions Trophy holders have peaked for the defence of their title on Monday.
Ponting’s team continued their domination over England with a crushing nine-wicket victory in last night’s semi-final at Centurion.
It was Australia’s seventh win against England in eight attempts and means they head into the showpiece match in fine touch.
Ponting and all-rounder Shane Watson both hit unbeaten hundreds in the chase of 258 while the bowling unit claimed six wickets inside 21 overs on a good batting surface.
“We have been talking about playing a level which is going to get us into big games,” said Ponting.
“At the start of the England series we were talking about being well prepared for the Champions Trophy and getting into a position where we could play our best cricket.
“To have this group of relatively young guys make it through to a final is a great achievement in itself but we won’t be happy until we peak on Monday.
“We will need to play our best game in a month in the final.”
Ponting’s 28th one-day hundred for his country also saw him become the first Australian to 12,000 runs in this format.
Without vice-captain Michael Clarke, injured alongside fellow limited-overs regular Nathan Bracken, more onus has been on Ponting to guide his young team.
“I was particularly keen to get out there,” Ponting said. “When the Australian team took the field, we had a different sort of energy about us than we have had for a while. That’s a really good sign.
“My job as an experienced player, and a leader is to make sure the guys get into that frame of mind as well.
“I pride myself on big games and it’s up to players like me to set the example and lead from the front.”
Watson, who has proved a major success as an opener in both Test and one-day teams, powered seven sixes in his third ODI century.
“We have seen over a number of years that when he gets in and gets set he can really dominate bowling attacks,” said Ponting.
Watson himself revealed his unbeaten 136 was a breakthrough moment for his batting.
“I have been really confident with my bowling at the tournament and it’s nice when it all comes together,” he said.
“I have been very lucky to be a part of some very big games throughout my career so far, not so much playing a big part in these games but learning how to deal situations.
“Not getting too overawed by situations, which is what I have had previously.
“I had been hoping to get a hundred since the first part of the Ashes and unfortunately I got a few 50s and never went on to it.”
Ponting, meanwhile, has backed England’s new-look side to gel in the coming months despite the 6-1 NatWest Series defeat to his side and elimination from this tournament.
“You can see they have got what it takes to play international cricket - skillwise anyway,” Ponting said.
“They are in a rebuilding phase but I am sure we will see some of the guys who played here around their side for a while.”