Ponting all 'pumped' for fireworks against Poms

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The Independent Online

Like his England counterpart Andrew Flintoff, the Australia captain Ricky Ponting has been keen to isolate today's game from the Ashes, maintaining that the result at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here will have little bearing when the series starts in Brisbane next month. But whenever the two sides play, under whatever circumstances, there is a buzz of anticipation.

"We have great rivalry with England, there is no doubt," Ponting said. "It goes back a long, long time. There is always a little bit extra in any game Australia and England play in and sides tend to lift when you have those kind of rivalries going on."

Recent limited-overs meetings have been evenly shared and England have a better record against Australia than any other top-eight side over the past two years. The fact they have won three and tied one of the previous seven completed matches does not say much for their overall recent efforts, however.

"Their one-day form probably hasn't been good since the lead-up series to the Ashes," Ponting said. "They played some very good cricket there and it was a very entertaining series. They probably haven't played as well as they would have liked, but that doesn't matter when you have a contest like this that both teams are pumped for. On the day anything can happen."

England have been here for 11 days and should have a better understanding of the conditions. Australia are contemplating dropping Brad Hogg and calling up Mitchell Johnson, their left-arm fast bowler, as the dew on the ball could hamper the spinners. That plan may be scuppered, however, as Johnson missed the Australians' sole net session ahead of today's day-nighter with stomach cramps.

The conditions will be made more tricky by the release of fireworks all around the city in celebration of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. "I have sent the boys out this morning to buy gas masks to field in," Ponting joked. "There is going to be a few fireworks, a bit of a haze, some smoke but hopefully not too much so we can still see the ball."

Both sides could mathematically still progress even in defeat but Ponting believes the equation suits his team. To take their first Champions Trophy, Australia must win four games in a row, a situation reminiscent of the one which saw them crowned champions at the 1999 World Cup. "We are used to being in this sort of situation," Ponting said. "You can get into this kind of position in most one-day tournaments you play in, especially if you lose a game early on. We tend to play our best cricket when we are under the pump."