Aussies run out of dust and rust excuses

Updated: Mar 17, 2011, 12:58 PM IST

Bangalore: Ricky Ponting will be allowed no more metaphorical excuses like "blowing out cobwebs" or "shaking off the rust" to defend Australia`s performance.

After two scratchy performances against associates Kenya and Canada, nothing less than their traditional brand of ruthless, aggressive cricket from now on will see them lift the World Cup for the fourth straight time.

Even though the margin of both victories -- by 60 runs against Kenya and seven wickets against Canada -- looked fairly comfortable on paper, the truth is that they were stretched on both occasions.

First, a 29-year-old Kenyan came within two runs scoring his maiden century and then a 19-year-old Canadian treated the world`s fastest bowlers with utter disdain.

While Collins Obuya`s unbeaten 98 showed that the Aussie pace trio of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson could be held at bay for 50 overs, Hiral Patel showed how raw pace can be used against its exponents by cutting and slashing his way to a whirlwind 45-ball 54.

"Against better teams and deeper batting orders, we have to make sure we don`t let teams get off to that sort of start," Ponting admitted, referring to Canada scoring the fastest team half-century of the World Cup in 4.4 overs.

If his speedsters fail, Ponting does not have much of a fallback, since his spinners Jason Krejza and Steve Smith have been virtual spectators so far, neither picking plentiful wickets nor plugging the runs.

Bureau Report