World Cup starts here, says Ponting of Pakistan showdown

Colombo: Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes the World Cup effectively starts for his four-time champions on Saturday in their Group A clash with Pakistan.

"As a team, we really do feel the tournament is kicking off now," Ponting told reporters in a pre-match news conference on Friday for a game which may well decide who wins the group.

Australia, the only unbeaten team in this World Cup, have beaten Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Kenya and Canada by big margins.

Their game against co-hosts Sri Lanka was washed away due to heavy rains, ending the much-anticipated game in a `no result`.

The skipper said his team were in good shape to play Pakistan who pulled off a surprise win over Sri Lanka before falling to New Zealand.

"We have trained exceptionally hard and very, very well," Ponting said.

It is still not clear whether Ponting`s men will face Pakistan`s fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who announced his retirement following the World Cup on Thursday, after he was dropped for their last match against Zimbabwe on Monday.

"I have always said that he is the fastest bowler I have ever faced in international cricket," Ponting said of the `Rawalpindi Express`. "With the new ball he still has good pace."

Bureau Report

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