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In defence of defending - Ponting argues runs on the board rules

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (AP) - Chasing big World Cup totals on the small grounds of the Caribbean is more difficult than defending them because you can only pursue at one pace - absolutely flat out.
That seems to be Ricky Ponting’s theory after Australia’s 83-run win over South Africa.
After the defending champions were sent in to bat at Warner Park, Australia scored 377-6 for the third-highest World Cup total. But that didn’t look enough when A.B. de Villiers and Graeme Smith took the score to 160-0 in the 21st over. De Villiers’ run out and the cramps that forced Smith to retire hurt slowed them down, before top-ranked South Africa lost 9-74 from 220-1 in the 32nd over.

Ponting thinks that any scoring lulls at the top of the order when in pursuit increases the likelihood of wickets falling and puts more pressure on batsmen lower down who aren’t as equipped to handle it.
‘’I knew we’d post a big total,’’ Ponting said. ‘’When we did, they only had one option: that is to come out and play that way. But when you do play that way you’re risk-taking as well.
‘’If we could get some new batsmen in there with the run-rate still around seven or eight an over, then there was going to be a lot of pressure on guys down the order.’’

Ponting foreshadowed that South Africa would bowl first regardless of the coin toss. But he argued that the margin for error when chasing is smaller because the run-rates required are so demanding.
‘’Our 377 was such a huge score,’’ he said. ‘’It doesn’t matter where you’re playing or on what wicket, that’s a huge score, and if you’re going to chase that down you’re going to have to do lots of things exceptionally well for long periods of time. It’s always hard work chasing big totals like that.
‘’Whenever a side is chasing a total like that, if they have one little slip-up or one brilliant piece of fielding from us, then it puts them on the back-foot pretty quickly.’’

But Smith defended his decision to bowl first and pointed to his stand with De Villiers as evidence.
‘’It’s a very difficult ground to defend on, as you could see in my partnership with A.B.,’’ he said. ‘’When batters get going it’s difficult; we’ve got a serious batting lineup that we back to win us the game.’’
If any team could have done it, South Africa was the most likely. Australia set a record 434 for a limited-overs international in South Africa last year, only for the Proteas to trump that with a 438-run reply.
Matthew Hayden scored the World Cup’s fastest hundred in 66 balls - breaking John Davison’s record for Canada against Kenya in 2003 by one delivery - and was granted honorary citizenship of St. Kitts.

Australia’s 3-0 one-day series loss in New Zealand last month had prepared Hayden for this trip. The prolific test match batsman had only just established himself back in the one-day team after a year on the outer.
‘’It was probably a benefit to go to New Zealand prior to this, similar-ish kind of wickets and sort of refine our technique over a period of time,’’ he said. ‘’It’s about tweaking your game to these conditions.’’
He liked the conditions, scoring an Australian record 181 in the last of those New Zealand matches before breaking his big toe.
‘’Every step you take in this tournament becomes more and more exciting,” Ponting said.

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‘Go to Hell!’: Fans taunt Pakistani cricketers

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ Jeering fans yelling ‘’Go to hell!’’ gave a stormy welcome to Pakistani cricketers returning home from their humiliating early exit from the World Cup.
Four players, including the swashbuckling all-rounder Shahid Afridi, landed at Karachi airport and were pilloried for the team’s shock loss to Ireland - that was followed a day later by the unsolved murder in Jamaica of coach Bob Woolmer.

About 200 people who had gathered at the airport taunted the mercurial batsman with chants of ‘’Afridi! sell lentils!’’ and ‘’Deserter, where are you going?’’ - and marched behind him as dozens of police escorted him to a waiting car.
‘’Go to hell!’’ some in the crowd yelled as Afridi, wearing dark sunglasses, got into the car and drove away. The all-rounder, one of the most marketable stars in this cricket-crazy nation, made no response to the chants.
The poor showing of both Pakistan and India at the World Cup has prompted fans to exchange through the Internet photo montages of their cricket stars, recasting them in menial occupations such as fish sellers and chapati bakers. Afridi is pictured as a truck driver - a reference to his tribe’s heavy involvement in road transportation in Pakistan.
Vice-captain Younis Khan was given a similarly derisive welcome on his return through Karachi on Monday, and took offense at one fan shouting that he should ride around the city on a donkey. More players were expected to arrive back in Pakistan later Wednesday.

Afridi returned on a flight with leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, fast bowler Mohammed Sami and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal.
Akmal was waiting inside the airport to catch a connecting flight, but the crowd chanted ‘’Shame! shame!’’ as Kaneria emerged, so police took him back inside. He and Sami were later spirited away from the airport through another exit.
Pakistan, which won the World Cup in 1992, suffered the worst upset in the tournament’s 32-year history, when on March 17 they lost by three wickets to Ireland, a side of part-timers. That defeat sent Pakistan crashing out of the competition.

Speaking to an Associated Press reporter inside the airport terminal, Afridi and Akmal revealed their dismay at the loss, compounded by Woolmer’s death a day later.
‘’We were very disturbed after losing in the World Cup and after the death of Bob Woolmer the next day we suffered mental tension,’’ Akmal said. ‘’Pray for us.’’

‘’It was a difficult time but God helped us endure it,’’ said the usually flamboyant Afridi. ‘’Bob Woolmer’s death gave us a shock. Police asked us questions in that crisis but we were cleared.’’
‘’Thanks be to God that we have reached our country,’’ he said.
Pakistani cricket officials have said the team members have been ruled out as suspects in the strangling death of Woolmer, a former England test player who had coached the side for nearly three years.
However, Jamaica’s deputy police commissioner Mark Shields told the BBC’s Radio Five, ‘’That is a pretty inaccurate statement because nobody at this stage could be ruled out of the inquiry.’’ But he added the Pakistani team members had been ‘’completely cooperative.’’

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