Ricky Ponting sees Malinga a real threat

Last Updated: Mar 05, 2011, 10:16 AM IST

Colombo: As defending champions Australia brace up for their first real test in 2011 World Cup when they play Sri Lanka Saturday, captain Ricky Ponting admitted a lot of the team strategy has revolved around tackling express-fast Lasith Malinga.

Ponting said they have discussed how they should handle slinger Malinga and the batsmen would go after him if he strays in line.

Known for his toe-crushers, Malinga claimed his second World Cup hat-trick against Kenya Tuesday. He had taken four wickets in four balls against South Africa in the 2007 World Cup.

“We’ve played a fair bit against Malinga over the years,” Ponting said.

“As a batting group, we’d like to think we can put a bit more pressure on him. If he happens to stray a bit with his length we will pick him off."

“He had a great game the other day against Kenya, and he looks like he’s in pretty good form. He was one of the main focuses for us in the team meeting, talking about the right way to go about playing him. His bowling in the middle overs and with the older ball is particularly good,” said Ponting.

Australia, who are on a winning streak of 31 World Cup matches, have cruised to victories against Zimbabwe and New Zealand and have four points.

“It’s a little bit hard to judge in the first two games, we really haven’t been pushed too much in the first two games,” Ponting said.

“The Zimbabwe game was obviously a very easy win for us and then to bowl New Zealand out the way we did and then pick the runs off pretty easily, we weren’t really tested in that game either. It’s not so much what we’ve done in the games that I’m happy with, it’s just the way we’ve approached every session so far,” said Ponting.

Ponting said they will put pressure on Malinga.

Sri Lanka have Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis in their ranks, but Ponting said the wicket is not going to help spinners a lot.

“The wicket is not spinning as much as it used to because it has all been re-laid and there seems to be more pace in it and, watching the second innings of the game (on Thursday when Pakistan beat Canada), it seamed around at night.

“I’m not sure if the Sri Lankans are entirely happy with what they’ve seen with the wicket conditions but it should suit us down to the ground.”

Ponting also said the pace trio of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson would be firing in a lot of bouncers.

“There’s not many batsmen that actually like it, particularly in this part of the world where they just don’t face a lot of it.”