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Ponting warns of tough battle against SA

The captain urged Aussies to get ready for the battle.

December 2, 2008, 11:22 AM IST
Ponting warns of tough battle against SA

Adelaide: Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has warned his team to step up for a heavyweight bout against South Africa later this month.

"We have to play at our optimum and there's no hiding that fact. Right through India we were a long way below our best and we were a bit off our best in Brisbane. We've taken a step closer here. We know the South Africans are a well-balanced side who have a really good fast bowling attack and five of their batters are in the top 10 run-scorers for 2008," Fox Sports quoted Ponting, as saying.

"They are a good side and we're not kidding ourselves. We've got a long way to go if we want to stay the No1 team in the world," he added.

"The hardest thing to do in cricket is to beat Australia in Australia. South Africa is a very good team with an exceptional bowling attack of Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and Mahkaya Ntini leading it and they're exceptionally well led by Graeme Smith. I think he's one of the best captains in world cricket.

"They'll come here thinking they've got a chance but Australia has proved once again they are the toughest team in their own conditions," said Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori.

South Africa arrives in Perth on Sunday for an extended preparation now that the Champions League, scheduled for this week in India, has been cancelled following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The only question for the Australians heading into the first Test against South Africa in Perth is do the selectors include a spinner or recall all-rounder Shane Watson in conditions that have traditionally hampered slow bowlers?

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5211 116
2 New Zealand 3959 110
3 Australia 4320 108
4 England 5253 105
5 South Africa 3537 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6967 124
2 India 7939 118
3 New Zealand 5347 116
4 South Africa 5602 112
5 Australia 5915 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8926 270
2 Australia 7815 269
3 England 6407 267
4 India 12141 264
5 South Africa 6220 259
see more