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Australia will come hard at Sri Lanka with short-pitched deliveries, says confident Ponting

Perth, Oct 25 (IANS) Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting is confident a bruised and battered Australia will use their pace bowling arsenal to devastating effect in the Super 12 match against Sri Lanka here later on Tuesday after the hammering they received from New Zealand in the opening game of the ICC T20 World Cup at SCG on October 22.

Ponting was part of the winning 1999 Cricket World Cup campaign, where the Australians had early setbacks, losing to New Zealand and Pakistan, before they made it to the final and thrashed Pakistan by eight wickets in a low-scoring match.

Not only did Steve Waugh’s men need to triumph in their remaining group games, Australia needed to win all their matches in the Super Six phase, having no points carried over from their stage campaign. Australia managed to win seven consecutive matches after the two losses to lift the trophy at Lord’s.

Aaron Finch’s side find themselves in a very similar situation going into the match against Sri Lanka, where a defeat will most certainly eliminate them from semifinal contention.

“I think it’s fair to say that the Sri Lankans probably can expect their fair share of shorter-pitched balls over there,” said Ponting on ICC’s Big Time Preview.

“It’s a very lively wicket there (in Perth), we know that, the bounce there is probably unlike everywhere else in the world. Maybe, if you go across the road to the WACA where it’s been that way for 50 or 60 years.”

Ponting added short-pitched bowling is the best option for the Australians as it has the potential to disrupt the plans of rival batters who sit and wait for fuller deliveries. “I actually think it’s (short-pitched deliveries) an underused ball full stop in T20 cricket. If you’ve got enough pace, use your one an over,” Ponting added.

“It’s a wicket-taking delivery, if not, more often than not it’s a dot ball anyway and it’s a way to just get the batsman thinking about, not lobbing onto the front foot and thinking they can just smack you back down the ground.

“It’ll be a tactic I think for the Australians right through this tournament with (Mitchell) Starc, (Pat) Cummins, (Josh) Hazlewood, (Marus) Stoinis and even (Mitch) Marsh, and if (Cameron) Green plays, I reckon you’ll see all those guys use pretty much their quota of short balls right the way through.”

Ponting, though, admitted the home team will not have it all their way, with Asia Cup winners Sri Lanka slowly building into their campaign. Despite an opening defeat to Namibia, Dasun Shanaka’s side topped Group A on net run rate (NRR), and the skipper is one of three key men who can disrupt Aussie plans.

“I think the two most dangerous players are (Bhanuka) Rajapaksa and Shanaka,” Ponting said. “I saw Rajapaksa up close and personal in the IPL, and did some pretty amazing things there. He’s a dangerous striker of the ball. Dasun Shanaka has had his best six or eight months at the international level leading into this event, through the Asia Cup.

“And they’re both batting in those sort of five and six slots which I think are going to be really important in Australia, those finishing roles now in the T20 game are going to be crucial,” he added.

With the ball, the ICC third-ranked T20I bowler and fifth-ranked all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga is also a big threat, according to Ponting. “He’s quickly becoming the leading spin bowlers in the world in the short form game and even though the wickets in Australia don’t spin much,” Ponting said.

“The little bit of movement he gets either way, a little bit like Rashid Khan, I think he’ll be a handful for any opposition.”

–IANS

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