The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bigger test than World Cup: Ponting

Melbourne: Australia, who arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday night, face a tougher challenge in the tri-series in India starting this week than they did in the World Cup, captain Ricky Ponting said.

Back-up seamer Andy Bichel will lead the world champions’ pace attack because of injuries to Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee. The inexperienced Nathan Bracken and Brad Williams and recalled Queenslander Michael Kasprowicz will assist Bichel in the tournament, which also involves New Zealand.

“We’ve got our backs to the wall a little bit with our injuries and preparations, but we won’t be using those as excuses,” Ponting said at Sydney airport. “Going to the World Cup as favourites and defending champions, we were under a fair bit of pressure there as well.

“But I think the side is going to be tested more this time, with the injuries we’ve got, to key places to key bowlers especially. It’s a big test for us.”

Shane Warne’s understudy Stuart MacGill will also miss the series with a calf muscle injury. Warne’s 12-month doping ban ends in February. New South Wales batsman Michael Clarke, 22, has replaced injured left-hander Darren Lehmann, who is acknowledged as one of Australia’s better players on turning wickets.

“Both sides that we’re playing against are very good one-day sides and they’ve been playing in those conditions for the last few weeks,” said Ponting.

“Tendulkar’s record against us would be fairly outstanding so that is a bit of a worry, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we can hopefully get him out early,” Ponting said. (Reuters)

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