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Ponting shrugs off lack of favourites tag


Australian captain Ricky Ponting said on Sunday he does not care that the defending champions go into the World Cup without their usual favourites tag, believing his side can triumph again.

Australia, aiming for an unprecedented fourth consecutive World Cup triumph, have lost a clutch of star players since they lifted the trophy in the Caribbean including Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist.

But they remain the top-ranked side in one-day cricket and recently showed their strength by coming back from an Ashes humiliation to thump England 6-1.

"We bounced back after the Ashes," Ponting said on the eve of his team's opening match against Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad.

"We have maintained high standards in the past few years whether at home or abroad and managed to win one-day games. We are proud of that. We know how to play in the sub-continent in different stages of the tournament."

Ponting said he was focused on playing good cricket.

"I don't think we are really worried about whether we start as favourites or not. We are here to do our best and hopefully start the tournament on a good note."

"We have to play our best cricket in the next five to six weeks. We have to prepare as best as we can and play as best as we can in the coming weeks," he added.

Australia have not lost a single match in the past two World Cups and Ponting said they would be out to maintain that astonishing run.

"It is amazing that we have gone through the last two World Cups without losing a single game. It is an achievement and we hope to maintain that streak," said the Australian captain.

"We are now concerned about what lies ahead of us and that is a 100-over game against Zimbabwe tomorrow."

Australia's attack has been strengthened with the return of paceman Brett Lee, who played a crucial role in the one-day series win over England after a long injury lay-off.

"He has been terrific. He has worked hard to get back into the team. He has been our best bowler in the recent series and is experienced. He has more tricks than he used to have," said Ponting.

Australia will be missing reliable middle-order batsman Michael Hussey due to injury, but Ponting said his side had the resources to do well.

"We have 15 players here now who are capable of winning the World Cup," said Ponting, who will be making a record 40th World Cup appearance on Monday.

"I didn't know about it (the record) but these are nice things to look back upon. I am excited to be back playing cricket after five or six weeks on the sidelines." Ponting missed the ODI series against England with a finger injury.