India and South Africa are the standout teams: Ponting

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Saumojyoti S Choudhury

Bangalore, Feb 11 (PTI) Australian captain Ricky Pontingdoes not believe that there are any favourites to win theWorld Cup, but indicated that India and South Africa would bethe teams to watch out for in the quadrennial extravaganzastarting February 19.

"Who is the favourite right now, I am not really botheredbecause a number of teams have the ability to win the cup. Inthis sort of tournament there are a number of teams who canwin. India and South Africa probably are the standout teams.

They are the powerhouses of international cricket.

"Pakistan and New Zealand are never too far away in ICCevents. Sri Lanka, in these conditions, are as good an ODIside in the game around," Ponting said.

The Australian captain also felt that results in thelead-up to the World Cup don''t count for much.

"I don''t really care where we start the tournament. It''sirrelevant. I think going into the last World Cup there wasnegativity around us. We lost the Commonwealth Bank seriesand lost to New Zealand. So there were a few doubts around ourteam but we went there and won the World Cup. I don''t think itreally matters too much what''s happening in the lead-up."

But he is pleased with the team''s 6-1 thrashing ofEngland in the recently-concluded seven-match ODI series.

"We are pretty confident coming into the World Cup justbeating a pretty good English side 6-1. We are really in goodshape and confident... momentum is around our team.

"I don''t care. Who the favourite is. I don''t know whetherthere is such a thing around in tournament like this.

Ponting hoped that his team would peak towards the latterstages of the tournament.

"It would be hard to maintain your intensity throughoutthe tournament because of its length and gap between some ofthe games. You can''t take anything for granted. We will makesure that we progress nice and steady and make sure that weplay our best cricket towards the latter part of thetournament," he said.

It is an accepted belief by now that Sachin Tendulkar,playing in his sixth and probably last World Cup, would giveit his all to win the trophy, but Ponting hoped the scriptwould turn differently.

"There is no bigger stage than a World Cup for all of usto stand up and perform well. Sachin wants to have a goodtournament and I am sure Sachin wants to win the World Cup buthopefully, it''s not."

The schedule has come in for criticism but the long gapsbetween matches, Ponting felt, will give the injured players,which his team has in plenty at the moment, enough time torecover and attain 100 per cent match fitness. .

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