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ICC Champions Trophy
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September 21, 2002
1145 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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Ponting backs Warne to be a match-winner

Australia captain Ricky Ponting is confident leg-spinner Shane Warne can be a major factor in the latter stages of the Champions Trophy despite having a quiet tournament so far.

Warne is Australia's leading wicket-taker in one-day cricket with 284 victims but bowled only two balls as Australia routed New Zealand by 164 runs on Sunday and took one for 33 in the nine-wicket win over Bangladesh on Thursday.

"Shane has got a huge part to play," said Ponting on Friday before the team departed for a weekend break in the Maldives islands ahead of their semi-final date with Sri Lanka on September 27.

"We won't be playing the semi-finals at the SSC (Sinhalese Sports Club), we'll be playing at the Premadasa Stadium and that has turned a bit more and been slower and lower.

"Shane being the world-class bowler he is, I'm sure he'll play a big part as the tournament goes on, as he did in the World Cup in 1999.

"When the big games came around he really put his hand up and was a match-winner for us on a number of occasions and I expect the same from him here as the tournament goes on," he added.


So far it has been Australia's fast bowlers who have been the match-winners, with Glenn McGrath taking five for 37 against New Zealand and Jason Gillespie collecting three for 20 against Bangladesh.

But with Ponting conscious of the way the pitches are likely to play in the latter stages of the tournament, he also looked to use the Bangladesh match to give Warne and left-arm spinner Darren Lehmann lengthy bowls.

"I tried to give them as much bowling as I could," he said. "They've not done as much as they might have over the past two weeks in matches, especially Warney, but he got ten overs in and that is encouraging."

Ponting also did not rule out playing off-spinning squad member Nathan Hauritz at some stage.

"Three spinners could be a possibility later on the way the pitches at Premadasa have turned," he said. "And Nathan's working hard in the nets as have Shane and Darren so it would be a shame if he didn't get a chance to play."

For now though Ponting is putting all thoughts of the semi-final to the back of his mind after an intense month of cricket in Kenya and Sri Lanka.

"It will definitely help to put the bats down and not worry about getting up and going to training for a few days," said Ponting.

"We always tend to play well with a rest and a break and this breaks the monotony of playing and training every day so it should do us good.

"We've got a nice trip planned, we'll get away for a few days then come back to prepare as best we can for the big semi-final coming up."

The Australian players are scheduled to return to Colombo on Monday

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