Krejza is a key player for Australia: Ponting

Updated: Feb 24, 2011, 19:25 PM IST

Nagpur: Australian captain Ricky Ponting on Thursday termed fast improving Jason Krejza as one of the important players in their World Cup title defence as they prepare to take on New Zealand in a group A clash here on Friday.

The defending champions and the Kiwis will lock horns at the VCA Stadium in Jamtha, where Krejza had taken 12 wickets against India on his Test debut.

“It’s always good as an international cricketer to turn up to a venue where you have had success. He knows the venue and wicket conditions and that will help him,” Ponting praised the 28-year-old who played only his second ODI against Zimbabwe the other day taking two for 28 from eight overs.

Ponting feels that the off-break bowler is improving with every match.

“He has been improving with every match since the two practice games. He bowled particularly well against Zimbabwe, the other night. He is a wicket-taking bowler. He can spin the ball and will be an important player for us in the World Cup,” the skipper assessed.

While Australia are depending a lot on Krejza’s tweaking abilities, Ponting knows that his batsmen have struggled against the Zimbabwean slower bowlers. The three main spinners Prosper Utseya, Ray Price and Graeme Cremer gave away only 127 runs from their 30 overs.

Remind him about the figures, the skipper shots back, “They didn’t take any wickets either.”

“Well, it was unusual the other day as we played 39 overs of spin. I know against New Zealand we will be playing against two good spinners. We also know they might open with a spinner. I have total confidence in my players and we have prepared well. We know that to progress, we need to play the spinners well.”

However he made no bones about the fact that he is missing a few left-handers as all the others in the top-six are right handers.

“It was unfortunate that Shaun Marsh and Michael Hussey got injured. It would have been nice to have a left hander up the order when a spinner turns the ball away from the right hander. The presence of left-hander means that he would be able to break that rhythm.”

About the nature of strip, Ponting echoed the sentiments of his Kiwi counterpart Vettori.

“Well, we should have come in the morning to judge as to how much the dew factor can affect considering it’ a day game. But as far as we have come to know there is little chance of dew being a factor. That means we will have an even contest. It will be a high scoring game,” he said.

Ponting expects the wicket to hold throughout as it did during the match between England and the Netherlands where nearly 600 runs were scored.

Questioned about the current phase being the toughest in his 16-year international career, the skipper said, “Look there has been only one match and we have won it. Looking back at 2007 World Cup, we had lost to New Zealand before the tournament and there was a lot of negativity around that group also. There were views that we won’t win the World Cup and players were past their prime and so on.”

“This time we are not the only contenders and that sits pretty well with us. We would like to play freely while teams like India handle the pressure of being favourites.”

Ponting also feels that the teams needs to work on its batting during the Powerplays.

“Lot of work needs to be done on that aspect. In the last match, they started with the spinners and our openers tried to feel their way through. But we are working on it and hopefully play well in the coming matches,” he signed off.