Ponting asks Australia to gear up for Proteas’ challenge

December 2nd, 2008 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Dec 2 (IANS) Australia captain Ricky Ponting has served a wake-up notice to his players for the home series against South Africa.Australia have gone through a roller-coaster season so far. They lost to India before regaining some confidence with a 2-0 thrashing of New Zealand at home.

Ponting said beating South Africa would be a different ball-game.

“We know we are going to have to play at our absolute best if we want to win the series against South Africa,” Ponting was quoted as saying in Herald Sun.

“We know the South Africans are a well-balanced side. They have got a really good fast-bowling attack and there are four or five of their batsmen in the top-10 run-scorers of 2008,” he added.

Boasting an awesome attack and powerful batting line-up, South Africa will arrive in Perth Sunday, with the first of the three scheduled Tests starting at the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) Ground from Dec 17.

The showdown with the second-ranked Proteas will decide which is the best Test team in the world.

“They are a good side. We are not kidding ourselves, we have a long way to go yet if we want to stay the No. 1 team in the world,” Ponting said.

The Proteas have never won a Test series on the Australian soil but, after winning eight of their past nine series, the South Africans believe they have the mental strength and physical skills to end the drought.

They also have the leading Test wicket-taker in the world this year in paceman Dale Steyn, while skipper Graeme Smith tops the runs list.

Ponting, however, was quick to needle the Proteas, who could prosper on a WACA Ground pitch which is expected to have speedsters from both nations salivating.

“It’s an attack that hasn’t played in Australia though, that’s the other thing,” Ponting said.

“And we all know it is pretty easy to get carried away with conditions in Perth if you haven’t played there before. We know as a batting group what we need to do. We know as a bowling group what we need to do in Perth as well. That’s probably one advantage we’ll have over the South Africans when we get there,” Ponting said.

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