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Ponting boost for Aussies in India

HYDERABAD, India (AFP) — Australia captain Ricky Ponting is expected to return for Friday’s third one-day international against India amid an escalating war of words between the rival camps.

Ponting attended nets here after missing the first two matches because of a hamstring injury sustained during last month’s Twenty20 world championships in South Africa.

Australia will also welcome back left-arm seamer Nathan Bracken, who has joined the touring party after being given compassionate leave to attend the birth of his first child.

Ponting and Bracken will strengthen the tourists as they bid for a 2-0 lead in the seven-match series, having won the second match in Kochi by 84 runs on Tuesday after the first in Bangalore was abandoned because of rain.

The build-up to the third game has been spiced up by comments from Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh, who accused the Australians of arrogance and vulgar language.

Ponting urged his team to concentrate on the game and “leave all the talking to the Indians.”

“That is not the way they (India) generally play their cricket, so they have put on some sort of a brave face,” the Australian captain said.

“We will go and play the best aggressive cricket we can and leave all the talking to the Indians.

“They are the ones who have come out and made all the statements since we’ve been here, this new India and the new aggressive outlook, the way they are going to play.”

Harbhajan pointed his bat in anger at the Australian fielders after his dismissal at Kochi, prompting umpire Steve Bucknor to intervene and persuade him to return to the pavilion.

Harbhajan told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper that the tourists were arrogant and still smarting after their semi-final defeat to eventual champions India in the Twenty20 World Cup.

“They think they are superior and can do and say whatever they like, but that is not the case,” Harbhajan was quoted saying.

“They are very bad losers,” he said. “They say they play the game in the right spirit, but they don’t in reality. There is nothing gentlemanly about the way they play.”

Harbhajan said he endured “a lot of vulgar words” from the tourists during the match at Kochi.

Ponting and Harbhajan’s comments are certain to fuel the growing ill-feeling between the two teams following Indian fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth’s on-field tantrums in Kochi.

Sreesanth clashed repeatedly with the Australian batsmen and even appealed for a run-out against Andrew Symonds after the ball was ruled dead.

Indian vice-captain Yuvraj Singh conceded Sreesanth needed to control his aggression.

“Sreesanth needs to show more of cricket and less of talk,” said Yuvraj. “It is not a team strategy. We have come here to play cricket.”

Match referee Chris Broad spoke to the management of both teams after the game and warned the captains to control their players.

Categories: Cricket News, twenty20
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