The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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I’ve worked out Harbhajan: Ponting

Gwalior, Oct. 25: The Aussies are back. They had learnt their lessons on the pitches in this part of the world during the 2000-01 tour and are determined not to sacrifice any ground this time around.

They will, though, have to tackle the new tricks up Harbhajan Singh’s sleeves, the man they called The Turbantor, in conditions not to their liking. Ricky Ponting says that tour is now history and prefers to look ahead with optimism.

The skipper’s form was also not too impressive then having fallen victim to Harbhajan’s doosra quite frequently. Ponting knows one-day cricket is a different ball game but has left nothing to chance.

“It was a pretty disappointing tour, didn’t get enough runs. I play my best in each game and hopefully I can make amends for last time,” was how Ponting reacted this afternoon.

He is not letting the past bother him and has come well prepared. “I think I’ve worked out on how to play Harbhajan. He got me a few times in the Tests and one-dayers. It’s a different game now and he has not seen much success against us in the last few outings. I’m pretty confident of tackling him well,” he remarked.

Ponting, however, is aware that it is not going to be easy with the top bowlers — Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, besides Shane Warne — missing. “It will be a great opportunity for Andy Bichel, Nathan Bracken and Brad Hogg.

“We are going to be tested in this tournament, no doubt about that. Without having the four best bowlers in the side, it’s going to be hard work,” he remarked.

Ponting has to bank on this young lot and has already chalked out his strategy. “I expect them to be aggressive against whoever they bowl. The Indian batsmen have played a fair bit of cricket but if we can take early wickets, the pressure will be on them. In their first game against New Zealand in Chennai, the batting wasn’t that long. Hopefully we’ll be able to stop them early,” he said.

The Australian one-day skipper is trying to draw strength from their previous performances. “We didn’t have a couple of key players even during the World Cup. But we always found somebody to do the job.

“We have played well against India and New Zealand in the past. But that is history and now we’re concentrating in the present. That’s what we have done in the past couple of days. All we can do is play well tomorrow. We had a good team meeting in the morning and things are looking pretty positive,” he remarked.

Bichel, who has been thrust into the pace spearhead’s role for this tour, put it aptly. “We are going through a learning curve from here to the 2007 World Cup. All the guys who have played for us have been great. And there will be lots of occasions from here on where we are going to try out new guys.”

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