Friday, March 25, 2011

Ponting predicts India will beat Pakistan in the semifinals

AHMEDABAD: Australian captain Ricky Pontingon Thursday predicted that India would beatPakistan in the World Cup semifinal and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men are the strong favourites to win the coveted title after a gap of 28 years. 
"India played well as a team today and deserved victory. Today we were not good enough (to win). Going forward they will be pretty hard to beat. They will beat Pakistan in the semifinal and go on to win the World Cup now," Ponting said at the post-match press conference after Australia were knocked out of the World Cup by India. 

"India have a very good batting line-up. We played very competitive cricket tonight but I'm disappointed with the two successive losses (against Pakistan in their last league game and today against India)," he said after his side's five-wicket loss in a high-octane World Cup quarterfinal. 

He said he would not be playing in the next World Cup but ruled out quitting one-day cricket. 

"I am not quitting one-day cricket but this is probably my last World Cup game. I will be happy to look back after retirement that I made a century in my last innings in the World Cup," Ponting said

He also said that the talk of the end of an era in Australian cricket was misplaced. 

"It's a bit premature to say it was the end of an era for Australian cricket, it was a pretty good game tonight. I do not think we were far away from winning the game against a very good Indian team on their home soil. I think it's a bit too early to say it's the end of an era," said Ponting. 

Ponting said his side had the chances to win the game and they were devastated by the loss. 

"We had great expectations from the game. We were a well organized group. We are devastated. We found it difficult to get momentum. Not performing at critical moments cost us the game. We did not grab our opportunities," he said. 

"We were 15 to 20 runs short with the bat. 250-260 was a good total but we lost wickets at bad time and never got the momentum going. We did not execute the plans properly," said the 36-year-old Tasmanian who scored a superb 104 after having struggled in the earlier part of the tournament. 

The Australian captain felt the schedule of the tournament could have been spread out better but said that that cannot be an excuse for his side's crashing out in the quarterfinals. 

"The schedule did not help us. But that cannot be put as an excuse for the loss. Over the last ten days my team has played four games. It would have been nice to have them (games) evenly spread out," he said. 

He sympathised with his key fast bowler Brett Lee who had made a great effort to get back into the team after a 14-month injury lay-off. 

"Brett has given a lot for Australian cricket during his entire career and at times coming back after big injuries. He will be shattered as he has worked very hard to get here," he said.

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