Ponting: SA are under immense pressure

Adelaide: Australia captain Ricky Ponting hit back at his counterpart Graeme Smith’s statements, saying that the pressure will be all on South Africa when the teams play for the number one Test team status over the next six weeks or so.

“There won’t be any added pressure on us, maybe on South Africa with that at the back of their minds,” Ponting said as the team left Sydney airport. The first Test gets underway at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on February 26.

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“They have probably been striving for a long time to be the number one, or recognised as the number one Test team in the world. So maybe that will weigh on their minds more than ours.”

South Africa took the number one ranking from Australia after beating the hosts two-one in a three-Test series ending in Sydney in January. It was Australia’s first home series loss in 16 years.

Australia will play three Tests in South Africa – in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. The teams will also play two Twenty20 matches at the end of March and five ODIs in April.

Ponting said he was looking to young fast bowlers Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus to stand up and forge an identity for themselves.

“There has been a lot of doom and gloom around in Australia this year with our cricket and the way we’ve played. Our results probably haven’t been what we expected or certainly what the public expected,” said Ponting.

“But there are a lot of positives around our group at the moment, things that I’m looking forward to being able to work with and players I’m looking forward to working with.”

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