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Ponting plays down verbal volleys

Australia captain Ricky Ponting has downplayed heated exchanges between his players and India in the ongoing one-day series, saying his team is focused solely on playing good cricket.

“Way too much has been written about it,” Ponting said on the eve of the seventh and final match here. His side have already gained a winning 4-1 lead.

“But after the second game in Kochi, we have played the game in a very good spirit. The match referee has said nothing about it. The focus should be on playing good cricket.”

The series has been marred by ill temper, stemming in part from discontent within the Australian camp at the way India’s players celebrated their semi-final win over Australia in the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa.

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds, the national team’s only black player, has been involved in a running feud with Indian paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth since the start of the series.

Cricket Australia said last week that Symonds complained about apparent monkey noises made by a section of the crowd as he fielded near the boundary during the fifth one-dayer in Vadodara.

Ponting also brushed aside suggestions made by a couple of team-mates that India should be ready for a tough reception when they tour Down Under for a Test series later this year.

“We are always very tough and play our cricket hard on the field. Nothing will change in Australia,” he said.

World Cup winners Australia may have already wrapped up the series with a solid all-round performance, but Ponting said revenge had never been on their minds after being beaten by India in the Twenty20 championship, which India went on to win.

“We were disappointed at not making the final in the Twenty20 championships. Sometimes it happens in cricket,” Ponting said.

“Coming after a long break, I think all the guys were keen to get back to playing some very good cricket again. And we have played some of our best cricket in the last two games against India in this series.

“We did not seek vengeance on anybody. We just wanted to play good cricket.”

Australia are playing their first 50-over series since winning the World Cup in the Caribbean early this year.

Ponting said in-form opener Matthew Hayden was doubtful for today’s day-night game.

“Hayden did a fair bit of running this afternoon. We will see how he pulls up tomorrow morning before making a final decision on him,” the Australian captain said.

The left-handed opener, who has so far scored 290 in four games, missed the previous match at Nagpur with a hip injury.

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