Pressure will be on favourites South Africa: Ponting

February 17th, 2009 - 7:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Feb 17 (IANS) Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said hosts South Africa will be
under pressure in the Test series as it is they who now hold the tag of being the favourites.

The Proteas will start as favourites in their bid to snatch the world No.1 ranking from Australia during the three-Test series starting Feb 26. But Ponting said that could be their undoing.

The verbal volleys between the two sides began when South African captain Graeme Smith at the weekend stated that Australia would arrive as a team under pressure. But Ponting begged to differ.

“If we can get off to a great start over there - and with them being favourites and with lot of expectation from their people and their crowds - who knows, things could turn against them pretty quickly,” Ponting was quoted as saying in Sydney Morning Herald.

“There won’t be any added pressure on us, maybe on South Africa with that (becoming No.1) at the back of their minds.

“They have probably been striving for a long time to be the No.1 Test team in the world, so maybe that will weigh on their minds more than ours.”

Australia have held the No.1 Test position for the eight years official rankings have been in place, and have been recognised as the best Test team in the world since 1995.

But after winning the recent series 2-1, Smith said his team would be looking to “open up a few cracks” in the wounded side.

“On previous tours, they have come here with confidence having had the foot on us right through the summer there and they have just carried it on. Now, even their experienced guys will come here in a different frame of mind, while the younger players are coming here for the first time,” Smith said.

“They are a touring team under pressure, and it’s never easy.”

Ponting said: “I think it (Smith’s comments) probably indicates just how close he felt that the last series in Australia was. We were in some strong positions in those two games, and if we get in those positions again in South Africa then I am sure we will capitalise on that.”

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