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September 9, 2002 | 2020 IST

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Australia keen to avoid new Champions Trophy slip-up


World champions Australia will aim to avoid a repeat of previous failures as they gear up for the ICC Champions Trophy starting in Sri Lanka on Thursday.

The travel-weary Australian squad arrived in Colombo on Monday determined not to look beyond their opening clash against Trans-Tasman rivals and trophy holders New Zealand on Sunday.

"We are all focussed on the first round, all work will be around the first match," skipper Ricky Ponting told reporters.

Ponting's side has been in ominous form, having dominated a one-day tri-series in Nairobi last week before rain washed out the final with Australia in a winning position against Pakistan.

"Rain probably cost us what we thought we were probably going to win," Ponting said.

Australia were favoured to win the two previous editions of the tournament, dubbed the 'mini World Cup', but lost both times to India, in the quarter-finals in Dhaka in 1998 and in the first round in Nairobi two years ago.

"If we beat New Zealand and Bangladesh in the next game, we will be in the semi-final," Ponting said.

The event has now been renamed and restructured, with a preliminary league featuring four pools of three teams with the winners qualifying for the semi-finals.

The Australian skipper was pleased with the fluent form of opening batsman Matthew Hayden, who has carried his superb Test run into the shorter version of the game. Ponting also felt express paceman Brett Lee was gradually developing into a key one-day bowler.

Ponting saw New Zealand, South Africa and England among the sides with a good chance to win the second-most prestigious one-day tournament after the World Cup.

"Lot of these sides are well-matched," he said.

Australia face a tough challenge against New Zealand after the Kiwis upstaged them during a triangular series in Australia this year.

But coach John Buchanan said: "We have a game plan (this time). There were certain challenges which we didn't necessarily respond to then but it'll be a lot better this time."

The Australians had to endure a 19-hour journey out of Nairobi after their final against Pakistan on Saturday, changing flights in Dubai and Madras.

"We have played four games in the last six days and then had a nightmarish flight. We will see how we cope with it," he said.

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