Ahmedabad: Australian captain Ricky Ponting is least bothered about the talk that his side are not the firm favourites to win Cricket World Cup this time but said they have the wherewithal to lift the coveted trophy for the fifth time.
"We are not really worried about whether we start as favourites or not. Probably in 1999 and 2003 we were talked about as favourites but certainly not in 2007 (when Australia won in West Indies to create a historic hat-trick). It does not worry us at all," said Ponting ahead of their World Cup lung opener against Zimbabwe here on Monday.
The 36-year-old Ponting, who led Australia to their last back-to-back title triumphs after being a member of the victorious squad led by Steve Waugh in 1999 and would be playing in his fifth World Cup, said the coveted crown was not beyond their reach.
"We will try and play our best cricket over the next 5-6 weeks. Obviously we want to win another World Cup and hopefully we will start with a win against Zimbabwe tomorrow. We have put in a lot of hard work," said Ponting who is back into competitive cricket after missing the entire ODI series at home against England due to a broken little finger.
"We have 15 players here who are capable of winning the World Cup. The selectors made that decision based on reports given by our medical staff," he declared when asked whether the decision to leave out Michael Hussey, who is recovering from a hamstring surgery, was premature.
Ponting said that though Australia have slipped down the Test rankings and were also beaten 1-3 by England at home in the last Ashes series, their one-day record made him proud.
"We wanted to bounce back after the Ashes. We have maintained very high standards in one-day cricket whether home or abroad over the last few years. We are proud of that. We know how to play here in the sub-continent in different stages of the tournament," said Ponting who is the second highest scorer in World Cup history behind India`s Sachin Tendulkar.
Ponting, however, has played more matches than Tendulkar and is, in fact, poised to get past former teammate Glenn McGrath in the number of World Cup appearances on Monday.
The two Australians are tied with 39 appearances ahead of Monday`s tie at Motera Stadium.
Ponting said he was not aware of this landmark or that Australia have gone unbeaten in the last three World Cups for a total of 29 matches.
"I did not know about it (about 39 appearances in World Cup). There are nice things to look back upon. But I`m excited to be playing cricket again after 5-6 weeks on the sidelines. The real test starts now. Let`s see how far we can go from
here," said the Tasmanian who has scored 1537 runs at an average of just over 48 in the World Cup.
"I am not aware of it (29 match unbeaten streak of Australia). It`s pretty amazing we have not been beaten for close to 2 and three-fourth of World Cups. Hope we can maintain that streak," said the Australian captain.
"We have come after a very good win against England. We are confident and excited about what the next few weeks hold for us. I`m not concerned about the past and thinking of what lies ahead of us," he remarked.
Ponting was full of praise of his fit-again fast bowler Brett Lee, who is back after recovering from an elbow injury, and declared the blond speedster as the fulcrum of the Australian attack.
"He (Lee) has been terrific and has worked very hard to get fit. He has been our best bowler since his return this summer. He is a better bowler now and has developed a few more tricks by playing in the shorter form of the game (T20).”
"He will be the leader of our attack, very experienced with an unbelievable strike rate. We are happy that a bowler with his skills is back in our team," he said.