With Test cricket’s number one position at stake,Australia skipper Ricky Ponting feels South Africa will be under more pressure than them when the two sides clash in the return Test series.
Australia,who were humiliated 1-2 at home by Greame Smith’s men last December,have a slender five-point lead going into the three-match Test series starting in Johannesburg from February 26.
South Africa,following their series triumph over Australia in the one-dayers Down Under,have already cornered the top spot in the shorter version of the game.
They now have a chance to snatch the top Test ranking also if they beat Australia in the home series.
“They have probably been striving for a long time to be the number one or recognised as being the number one Test team in the world,” Ponting said prior to the team’s departure for South Africa.
“Maybe that will weigh on their minds more than on ours,” he said,stepping up the mind games started by rival captain Smith who in his column wrote he saw an opportunity “to open a few cracks” if his team played well in the first Test.
Ponting made it clear they would do everything possible to stop Smith’s men from attaining the Test double and said the burden of expectations could go against the hosts.
“With them being favourites and with a lot of expectation from their people and the crowds,then who knows,things could turn against them pretty quickly,” Ponting told Australian Associated Press.
He also felt winning this series in South Africa would rank alongside the 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England.
“I’ve been around a long time,I’ve played a lot of games,but this will be as big a series for me as any I’ve every played in,I think,” he said.
The skipper also pinned his hopes on pacers Mitchell Johnson,Peter Siddle,Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger to make a mark in the rainbow nation.
“It’s a great opportunity here for a Siddle or a Hilfenhaus or a Bollinger to really make a name for themselves and forge their own identity at international level,” said Ponting and hoped Bryce McGain’s spin could unsettle the Proteas.
“It’s always nice to have a very good and highly skilled leg spinner in your side,which Bryce is. There’s every chance he could be that factor that we need over there.”
Ponting also said they have plans in place to nullify the threat of middle-order batsman J P Duminy.
“We’ve had an opportunity to have a good look at him (Duminy) for a long period of time. We’ve got some things up our sleeve that we will be able to execute well when we get the opportunity against him over there.”