Ponting exudes confidence ahead of second Test

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Mohali, Oct 16 (UNI) Australia Captain Ricky Ponting today asserted that the absence of main strike bowler Stuart Clark will not affect his team's chances against India in the second Test starting here from tomorrow.

Clark was declared unfit to play the match as his elbow injury has not fully healed and in his place Peter Siddle will make the debut.

The Australian captain was of the view that it (cricket) being a team game, the team's chances or showing depends on all the eleven players and not on one player.

Talking to mediapersons, he did not agree to a question that Clark's absence will be a big disadvantage for his side. ''I don't think so, eleven players will give their best for Australia. We are very competitive against any side in the world.'' He had a word of praise and encouragement for debutante Peter Siddle saying,''a lot has been made of our inexperienced attack before the first Test, but we proved every body wrong as we performed and now here I have confidence in Siddle. He is a lively right-arm fast bowler and I know he is up for the challenge.'' Ponting was at his professional best when he said he hoped that Sachin Tendulkar is not able to get past Brian Lara's record by becoming the highest scorer in the Test cricket but hastened to pay compliments to the master blaster saying,''the way Sachin played in the second innings of the first Test, he showed that he still has got that hunger for runs. If he breaks the record, it will be great and we will all congratulate him but our bowlers are there to ensure that he does not get to that.'' He also came to the defence of the Indian spinners and said too much was being said and written about them (Kumble/Harbhajan) having not done well.

''I don't think so. The Banglore pitch was not a spinners' paradise. Kumble could not bowl in the second innings because of injury. I think our batters played them well,'' Ponting opined.

About the possibility of Kumble not playing tomorrow, Ponting said,''we know about his injury, we discussed it in our meeting that he may not play but we are also preparing and planning assuming that he will play.'' Ponting made light of the fact that his team lacks a quality spinner saying,''I am happy with the job done by Cameron White in the first Test. Hopefully, with more luck he will get few more wickets here.'' He played down his century in the first Test saying one game does not make a series. There are still three more Tests to go.

''Yes I did get a good start but I have to do well in the other matches too. I hope Hussey also will have more success on this tour.'' The Australian captain also complimented the Indian pace duo of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma calling them a quality bowlers.

''Zaheer made good use of the reverse swing in the first Test.

The Indians bowled well.'' About his own pace attack, Ponting said,''we have a competent attack. Brett Lee is as good as any one as a pacer bowler so is Stuart Clark. Now there is a chance for Siddle to show his wares.'' He asserted that so called war of words was started by the Indians.

''We are here to play cricket and for that we are completely focused and are playing well and giving ourselves best chance to win,'' he said.

About the pitch, the Australian skipper said,''it is good track.

It has got slight pace and bounce than any other. It is different from the track on which I played in the Champions trophy in 2006.'' Asked whether he will like to bat or bowl first in case he wins the toss, Ponting replied,''we will decide after the toss.'' UNI HSB AB AS1610

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