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Australia Among Main Contenders for World Cup: Ponting

Cricketnext Staff |February 10, 2019, 10:37 AM IST
Australia Among Main Contenders for World Cup: Ponting

Ricky Ponting believes the imminent return of Steve Smith and David Warner will provide Australia a great chance of defending their World Cup title this year in England and Wales.

Ponting, who captained Australia’s triumphant 2003 and 2007 World Cup sides, was announced as side's assistant coach on Friday (February 8).

The defending champions have been going through a horrible phase in One-Day Internationals, winning just four out of their last 26 ODIs.

"Absolutely," Ponting declared at the MCG on Sunday when asked if he thought Australia could win the World Cup.

"India and England are probably the two standout teams right now, but if you add Warner and Smith back into that line-up then I think that team looks as strong as any.

"I am not just saying that because I am one of the coaches, I actually said it when I wasn’t around the group. Conditions in England will suit our style of play ... I think Australia will be one of the main contenders for sure."

Both Smith and Warner's bans will end on March 29, but their preparations have been disrupted by elbow injuries. The two, however, are expected to straight walk into the team once they are fit.

"We went to World Cups with Michael Bevan injured, Darren Lehmann suspended, Warney (Shane Warne) went home and Jason Gillespie went home," Ponting noted.

"World Cups very rarely run exactly to plan. All the planning right now is we will have all those guys in the squad and if we do, it looks as good as any squad on paper."

Australia have recently struggled against spinners but Ponting feels spin won't play a big part in England.

"Looking at our line-up now, there are potentially a few better players of spin in the middle order than what we had last year," he said.

"The thing about English conditions is the wickets shouldn’t spin too much throughout the World Cup.

"With the inclusion of two of the best one-day players in the world who have a lot of experience, all of a sudden the team starts looking a whole lot better. You will have guys that will handle a lot of pressure situations better because they have done it all before."

Australia are next scheduled to travel to India later this month for two T20Is and five ODIs.

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