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Australia

Australia: looking for a fourth successive win

Australia: looking for a fourth successive win

Australia squad
Ricky Ponting (capt)
Michael Clarke
Doug Bollinger
Callum Ferguson
Brad Haddin
John Hastings
David Hussey
Mitchell Johnson
Jason Krezja
Brett Lee
Tim Paine
Steve Smith
Shaun Tait
Shane Watson

Overview

Australia bid to win a fourth straight World Cup but have mixed memories of playing on the sub-continent. They famously won the tournament there in 1987 (thanks in no small part to an ill-judged reverse sweep by then England captain Mike Gatting) but were beaten in the final in 1996 by Sri Lanka.

There are still seven survivors from the side that was successful in the Caribbean four years ago and, amazingly, the Aussies have not lost a World Cup game since going down to Pakistan at Headingley way back in 1999.

However experienced captain Ricky Ponting is one of several who have question marks over their fitness going into the tournament.

Michael Clarke did a good job at stand-in in the series against England, but Ponting is still such a key figure - and although Australia are not seen as the all-conquering force that they once were, they are still world No.1.

Strengths

Watson: explosive opening combination with Haddin

Australia's batting line-up looks strong, starting with the dangerous opening partnership of Brad Haddin and Shane Watson.

Ricky Ponting will be desperate to score heavily in what appears likely to be his swansong from ODI cricket, particularly after a difficult Ashes series on home soil for both himself and his team.

With the touch play of Michael Clarke, the power of Cameron White and the finishing skills of Michael Hussey (provided he is fit to feature), the top six has every base covered.

But that's not all - the unorthodox Steven Smith and the big-hitting Mitchell Johnson means there are runs all the way down the order. Even Brett Lee is no mug with the bat, and he looks set to be down at No.9.

Weaknesses

Ponting: fifth World Cup

Their batting may need to be strong as there are concerns over Australia's attack, particularly when you look at their slow-bowling options.

Brett Lee has impressed on his comeback to the national scene against England but did not do so well during his stint in the Indian Premier League.

The inability to know exactly which Mitchell Johnson will turn up on any given day makes it difficult for a captain to have faith in him, while Doug Bollinger shouldn't scare any of the top sides when he has the new ball in his hand.

It is a similar case for the spinners. Both left-armer Xavier Doherty and off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, who is another fitness doubt, are steady but unspectacular, while leggie Steven Smith is still far from the finished article.

Six-hitter - Cameron White

White: provides some power hitting in the middle order

White has gone from Twenty20 specialist to a key cog in Australia's limited overs set-up. The right-hander is more than just a slogger, as proved by his maiden international century batting at No.3 against England in 2009.

He will most likely be down at five in the order during the World Cup but his power hitting - particularly straight down the ground against spinners and seamers alike - will make him a dangerous opponent for any bowler.

Strike bowler - Brett Lee

Lee: not finished just yet

It is a measure of the man that Lee has battled back from yet another injury to keep his international career alive. Recalled for the one-day series against England, the paceman quickly reminded opponents and fans alike of his talents with the new ball.

At 34 he shows no sign of slowing down but the New South Welshman is now also a canny bowler capable of out-thinking an opponent. All rival batsmen should be wary of his toe-crushing yorkers.

Look out for...Steven Smith

Smith: Can make an impact with both bat and ball

Pushed into the national team following signs of early promise, Smith is still working to develop his game but looks right at home in Australia's squad.

At 21 he has now played in 15 one-dayers for his country and although batting is perhaps his stronger suit right now, it is his bowling that offers real hope for the long-term future.

Leg spin is a tough art to learn but Smith seems to have quickly developed the happy knack of being a 'golden arm'; in the series against England it appeared his half-trackers were his most effective weapon in his arsenal.

His batting is unorthodox but effective, while the New South Welshman is a livewire in the field and a whole-hearted competitor who seems to revel in the chance to represent his country.

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