Cricket World Cup 2011

Sachin, Ponting in blockbuster

2011-03-24 09:12
Sachin Tendulkar. (AFP)

New Delhi - Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting will be centre stage on Thursday, as India and Australia clash in a World Cup quarter-final blockbuster where defeat could have shattering consequences for both men.

Tendulkar needs one more century to complete a hundred international tons, while a victory for Ponting will take his side closer to a fourth successive world title.

But with Tendulkar 38 years old, and Ponting already 36, defeat will likely signal the end of both men's World Cup careers.

That would leave the Indian superstar without a world title, while Ponting knows that defeat could see him stripped of the one-day captaincy he has held since 2002.

Tendulkar moved to 99 centuries (51 in Tests and 48 in one-day internationals) with a majestic innings of 111 in his side's group match against South Africa.

"He keeps it really simple," said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni ahead of Thursday's match in Ahmedabad, where a win will set-up a semi-final against arch-rivals Pakistan.

"He doesn't look at the milestones that are coming up for him.

"Playing for 20, 21 years, the kind of form he has been in throughout his career, he knows every game there is some kind of milestone around the corner."

Defending champions Australia will go into the match having won nine of the last 15 one-dayers played between the two teams in India.

They also have an impressive record against India in World Cup matches, having beaten them in seven of nine meetings.

But Australia saw their 34-match unbeaten run in the tournament ended by Pakistan in the concluding group match in Colombo last weekend.

Once again, the champions will rely on their pace attack of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson to unsettle their rivals, particularly Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, fitness permitting, at the top of the order.

"We're more reliant on fast bowlers, they are more reliant on spinners," said Ponting.

"We expect to be facing 30 overs of spin, they will be facing 30 overs of fast bowling, those are the strengths of both teams."

Meanwhile, Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said he is relishing the prospect of playing the last two matches in India to win the World Cup, as his team continued its ruthless march.

Pakistan, led from the front by inspirational captain Shahid Afridi, crushed the West Indies by 10 wickets in Dhaka on Wednesday to advance to their first semi-final since 1999.

Waqar said it would be "awesome" if Pakistan was to play India for a place in the final at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on April 2.

"I would love to play India in India," the fast bowling great said. "There is no bigger rivalry in the game than that. We have not played each other in our own country in recent years.

"So it should be very exciting. The two are cricket-loving countries. If it happens it will be awesome."

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson threatened his senior players with the axe after their humiliating defeat to Pakistan.

"We are very very disappointed with our performance," the coach said. "It's a fact that our senior players have not performed. When the going got tough we did not stand up to it."

Star opener Chris Gayle managed just 170 runs in the tournament, Shivnarine Chanderpaul made 114, Ramnaresh Sarwan just 115 and big-hitter Kieron Pollard scored 180.

The third quarter-final will be between South Africa and New Zealand in Dhaka on Friday, with Sri Lanka hosting England in Colombo on Saturday.


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