| Australian skipper Ricky Ponting (picture left) checks into the team hotel in Guwahati, while New Zealand’s Craig McMillan explains a point during practice at the Nehru Stadium on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Nov. 8: According to New Zealand coach Ashley Ross, Thursday’s impressive win over India in Cuttack is history. So are the two defeats against Australia, in Faridabad and Pune.
“We took a few games to get into rhythm. We had a very good professional game against India and are now looking to move forward,” Ross said on the eve of the match with Australia at the Nehru Stadium — the Trans-Tasman rivals’ third clash in the ongoing TVS Cup tri-series.
The Aussies, who arrived here this afternoon and skipped nets, sounded quite upbeat as well. Captain Ricky Ponting asserted there will be no let-up in the world champions’ approach despite the fact they are sitting pretty with 18 points.
“We are well-prepared and improving with every game. There is no question of taking any game lightly,” Ponting said after he and coach John Buchanan made a 20-minute visit to the stadium.
Their last face-off in Pune, on Monday, went the full distance with the Aussies holding nerves to pull off a thrilling two-wicket win with a ball to spare. Given the mood in both camps, the Guwahati ODI, too, promises to be a cracking affair.
Despite the best efforts of the match officials and the Assam Cricket Association, though, there could be a light-related problem. It has been decided to start the match at 8.30 am as natural light starts fading here from before 4 pm at this time of the year.
It has been very cloudy almost the whole of the last two days and though the Met office has ruled out the possibility of rain on Sunday, pushing in 100 overs in the time available may not be possible.
The world champions have included Jimmy Maher and Michael Kasprowicz in the playing XI. Ponting, however, didn’t reveal who will be omitted. “Ian Harvey and Andrew Symonds are down with a stiff back and twisted knee, respectively, but who will be left out will only be announced tomorrow.”
New Zealand, too, will announce their playing XI before the match. Ross did say that allrounder Chris Cairns was in the frame. “He is very much in the picture and we’ll be assessing his fitness tomorrow morning,” he said.
According to a reliable source, however, Cairns — whose last outing here fetched him the Man-of-the-Match award against India in 1999 — is most likely to sit out.
The pitch wears a grassy look, and that’s the reason why both teams want to finalise strategy after having a look at the wicket in the morning.
A New Zealand victory tomorrow will put the pressure squarely on India, who will then have to triumph in their last two matches (versus Australia in Bangalore and against New Zealand in Hyderabad) to make the final.
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Michael Bevan, Ian Harvey, Brad Hogg, Andy Bichel, Brad Williams, Nathan Bracken, Jimmy Maher, Michael Kasprowicz, Michael Clarke.
New Zealand (from): Stephen Fleming, Lou Vincent, Craig McMillan, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Chris Nevin, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, Ian Butler, Paul Hitchcock.
Umpires: K. Hariharan, D. Shepherd.
TV umpire: I. Shivaram.
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