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Lee is raring to go

By Glenn McGrath
March 19, 2003 18:14 IST
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Our batsmen will be relieved to get out of Port Elizabeth. The wicket just did not have the pace and the bounce our top five batsmen thrive on, and it is a flattering comment on our lower order that we managed to cross 200 on each occasion, despite small contributions from our main batsmen.

This semi-final meeting with Sri Lanka was a game we were a little worried about. Possibly, after our first two games against Pakistan and India, this was the first game we were concerned about, partly because of the wicket and partly because of their quality spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan. This is why we decided to play out Murali's overs rather than take too many risks against him. We also decided to slow down a little and our target was around 230, so we knew 212 was always going to be competitive.

As we move to the finals, our bowling is looking pretty lethal. Brett Lee was bowling really fast in Port Elizabeth, and would be even deadlier at the Wanderers. Before this tournament, Brett always went for plenty against India. However, our game at Centurion saw a change in that equation, and now Brett is really looking forward to testing the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and of course Sachin Tendulkar.

As far as our batting is concerned I think Damien Martyn will miss the finals because his finger still does not look too good. Fortunately for us, Andrew Symonds has been looking in such good form that we hardly missed Damien in the semi-finals. If Symonds' innings against Pakistan gave him confidence, Tuesday's game proved to the world as well as to himself that he can play a controlled game, reining in his desire to go for the shots. The manner in which he held himself back when his natural instinct would be to loft the spinners.

Chaminda Vaas was excellent as well, because he just did not give Symonds the pace he was looking for by running his fingers across the seam to take the pace off the ball, but Symonds refused to succumb to a rash shot.

We are in another World Cup final, and our road to this finals could not have been more different from the last one. Looking back, I would say that the turning point was Symonds' knock against Pakistan. It was a tough game for us, especially with the sudden departure of Shane Warne. However Symonds rallied us around, and Brad Hogg bowled beautifully.

This made us confident that we have the depth, resilience and spirit to overcome any injury or setback. In that sense, we won a big victory at the start itself, and the confidence we gained there might be enough to take us right through to the end.


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Glenn McGrath