ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pitch fears for Aussies ahead of opener


Australia will fear the turning wicket more than their rivals when they make their Champions Trophy start on Wednesday (today), a tournament they have never won.

Australia’s opening match against the West Indies is at the Brabourne stadium where the dusty, slow wicket has been ridiculed by most teams who have played on it in recent days.

Brian Lara’s West Indies could only muster 80 runs against Sri Lanka here on Saturday and on Monday South African captain Graeme Smith slammed the pitch after his team went down to New Zealand by 87 runs.

“The pitch broke up, the ball turned a hell of a lot. I don’t think the pitches are going to provide 100 overs of good cricket,” said Smith, whose side is ranked second behind Australia in the one-day game.

Ricky Ponting’s Australians are determined to take home the Champions Trophy, the only major silverware missing from their cupboard despite being the undisputed one-day kings, with back-to-back World Cup wins in 1999 and 2003.

The prolonged monsoon season that ended this month has prevented India from preparing traditional flat pitches that favour batsmen. Instead, the ball has ruled the bat.

Only Sri Lanka has passed 300 in the eight matches played, against lowly Bangladesh, a far cry from totals of more than 400 that have been achieved four times this year alone.

Veteran Australian batsman Damien Martyn conceded the world champions’ biggest worry would be how the pitch played on Wednesday (today).

“I was shocked because the practice wickets at the Brabourne stadium have been pretty good,” said Martyn, “We know it’s going to turn, but the quicks were surprised by the lack of bounce and variation. Usually, the one-day wickets here are nice and flat and hard in the first 15 overs. Now we know that we’re going to have to adjust to it, but it looks difficult,” he added. The Australians had good stints with both bat and ball in the two practice matches they played in Mumbai since their arrival a week ago.

All-rounder Shane Watson is almost certain to be rewarded for his good form by being promoted to open the innings with wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist. Left-handed Simon Katich, another contender for the opener’s berth, left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson and off spinner Dan Cullen are expected to be left out of the playing 11.

Australia’s next group A match is against old foes England in Jaipur on Saturday, the day India celebrates its biggest festival, Diwali. Ponting’s men play hosts India on October 29 in Mohali.

The West Indies are confident they will recover from the nine-wicket humiliation by Sri Lanka in the final qualifying match to give the Australians a good fight.

“We have put that loss behind us and know what to expect on Wednesday (today),” said Lara. “It’s good we have played three matches and the Australians will be a bit edgy going into their first game. We have to take advantage of that. It’s going to be a fresh start since all teams begin from zero points,” he added.

Source:The News

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