India third on Mark’s list
Sydney: Australian batsman Mark Waugh has rated an “unpredictable” India third among the favourites to lift the World Cup, behind his own country and South Africa.
Writing in the Sun-Herald newspaper, Waugh said, “India and Pakistan are the wildcards. They are unpredictable but capable of beating anyone on their day.”
“Australia are my tip to win the World Cup but I am not getting carried away. I am reasonably confident rather than totally convinced.”
On India, Waugh wrote, “they are an excellent batting side on paper. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are very solid and if a couple of them were to get going in any one game, they could do a lot of damage.
“Their pace bowling is improving — Zaheer Khan is excellent — and they’ve got a couple of good spinners in Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
“India’s fielding has also improved, with Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh being outstanding. The worry for the Indians will be the fast and bouncy pitches.”
Ponting assures Zimbabwe
Johannesburg: Ricky Ponting has reaffirmed his team’s commitment to play their match in Zimbabwe. The Australian one-day captain said he expected Australia’s match in Bulawayo on February 24 to take place.
“The only reason we won’t be going to Zimbabwe is if the security and safety issue gets a lot worse over the next couple of weeks than it is at the moment," said Ponting on Sunday. “The players, the ACB and the ICC have been keeping a close eye on that for the last couple of months. They have been pleased with what they have seen and, as far as we are concerned, we have no reason not to trust their decision.”
Ponting was also keen to distance himself from both England’s decision on whether or not to play in Zimbabwe, as well as any perceived moral issues surrounding matches in the country, which is currently facing social and political unrest. “We have got completely different circumstances to them (England),” he said.
Bevan ruled out of opener
Johannesburg: Australia’s Michael Bevan has ruled himself out of Tuesday’s World Cup opener against Pakistan at the Wanderers.
The left-handed Bevan, who is recovering from a torn groin muscle suffered during the recent tri-series against England and Sri Lanka, took part in Australia’s practice session at the venue on Sunday.
But afterwards he told Reuters he did not believe he was ready to return to action for the defending champions’ opening match of Group A.
“I’m going okay but I think I’m going to be pipped for this match,” he said. “It’s just come a few days early.
“I’m about 80 per cent right and I really needed to be 100 per cent right today.”
Without Bevan, and with batsman Darren Lehmann serving the last match of his five-game ban, Jimmy Maher appears to be guaranteed to start on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Saeed Anwar is also still unceratin for the Wanderers match.
Musharraf’s high hopes
Lahore: President Pervez Musharraf has said he has high hopes Pakistan will win if the players put in a collective effort.
“No doubt our team is one of the best in the world and what it requires is to show collective efforts in the Cup,” Musharraf said late last night. “It is a very talented side and players are full of potential. But they are disorganised and they must overcome this factor in order to get productive results.”
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