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Ponting to reinvigorate fear in Sri Lankan minds

Sydney, Nov 7 (UNI) In a move that will surely spice up the Sri Lankan Test series down under, captain Ricky Ponting believe that the emerald island team are scared of them and the Ozzies will like to ''reinvigorate some of those fears''.

Ponting, in his book ''2007 Captain's Diary'', has said that the Sri Lankan team couldn't overcome their fear of Australia in the World Cup final in the Caribbean and he backed up his words, saying he could see no reason why that fear factor wouldn't still be there.

''You would think so. It's the same group of players. I'd imagine it would be. We've got a very good record against them,'' Ponting said.

''I know in the early days they probably competed pretty well against us. Look back to the 96 World Cup final, they beat us there, and they beat us in the Champion's Trophy semi-final not long after that.'' ''I think in the last few years we really have dominated them in both forms of the game. We had a great Test series win against them over there in my first series as captain so I think all those fears are definitely still there.'' ''It's a matter of us starting this Test series well, starting tomorrow well early on and reinvigorating some of those fears still in them. I've got no doubt they're still there,'' he said.

Ponting's comments will no doubt stir the soul of Sri Lanka, who believe they have the bowling attack and batting strength to stage an upset over the Australians on their home turf for the first time.

Sri Lanka played two Tests in Australia in 2004, losing the series 1-0 after forcing a draw in Cairns and succumbing on a difficult wicket in Darwin. Muralitharan was not a part of that tour.

Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene dismissed Ponting's assertion, saying his squad has no fear of their hosts and believed they were peaking at the right time after recent Test triumphs in England, New Zealand and Pakistan and believe that his team can pull off a upset. The first Test starts at Gabba tomorrow.

''We don't fear Australia. They've played some good cricket against us, yes, and we've competed really well. And we as a group have improved quite a bit in the last two years, especially away from home,'' Jayawardene said.

''That was a challenge that we set out two or three years ago, where we need to improve the way we compete away from home.

''Yes, we've done very well in Sri Lanka because the conditions are quite used to us. But in the last three years we've beaten England in England, New Zealand in New Zealand, Pakistan in Pakistan, so this is one of the places we haven't done well. It's a great challenge to see how we can approach this.

''The last time we were in Australia we drew a Test match after a long time in Cairns. It went five days, we played some really good cricket.

''The Darwin Test match -- the wicket had a bit in it -- we fought really well but a couple of good knocks from Gilly (Adam Gilchrist ) and (Darren) Lehmann changed the game for them.

''We've got a very good bowling unit now who we think can trouble any batting line-up in world cricket these days, so we've got a confident bunch of guys who are looking forward to this challenge.'' UNI

Story first published: Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 15:09 [IST]
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