Australia eye final berth

CENTURION: Having sneaked into the semi-finals with a last-ball victory over Pakistan, Australia will have to plug their batting loopholes

when they take on their traditional rivals England in the first semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy here tomorrow.

Chasing 206 against Pakistan, Australia’s middle order collapsed from a comfortable position

before they struggled their way to the semi-final and skipper

Ricky Ponting will have to

ensure his men do not repeat the same mistakes.

Australia had recently registered a convincing 6-1 victory over England in the ODI series in England and Ponting will hope his team draws inspiration from that series and comes up with a similar performance tomorrow.

“We had a very good series against England over there but its different conditions here and I think they are playing really good cricket. We have to make sure we play well in the next match on Friday,” said Ponting.

On papers, Australia do not seem to have any chink but yesterday’s match showed their vulnerability to quality bowling specially at the end overs. Australia’s top order has so far fired in unison with Tim Paine, Ponting and Mike Hussey leading the way for the team. However, opener Shane Watson’s poor form will be a cause of worry for the Aussies.

“We’ve just come from a really good series against them over there, but it’s different conditions here to what we confronted over there and they’ve been playing some pretty good cricket of late,” Ponting said. “We need to get back to the drawing board a little bit and talk about what went wrong in the last part with our batting this afternoon and make sure we don’t do that again on Friday. As the ball got older it reversed a bit at the end and spun a bit for the spinners too so we were pretty lucky we restricted them to that total. I thought the bowlers in the second half of the innings particularly, did a good job.”

Pakistan will face Group B leaders New Zealand in the other semi-final in Johannesburg on Saturday. They will be gunning for their second ICC title this year after winning the World Twenty20 in England in June.

“I’m always happy whether you play England, Australia or any team in semi-finals or final it doesn’t matter,” Younis Khan said. “If you play good cricket then you are the winner,” he added.