Melbourne: After the early exits of India and Pakistan from the World Cup, Australia captain Ricky Ponting has asked Ireland and Bangladesh to lift their game to be ``fairly competitive'' in the second stage of the mega event.

Australia will meet Bangladesh on Saturday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and then plays Cup debutant Ireland in Barbados later.

"I guess there are a couple of nations that have made it through that you mightn't have expected," Ponting said.

"It's just up to the other sides to make sure they play well and probably up to those smaller nations to make sure they lift their standards as well and make the games they play fairly competitive," he was quoted as saying by The Australian.Ponting, who was earlier not in favour of playing second-tier teams in the tournament, said he was not sure if the presence of Bangladesh and Ireland would make the competition any easier.

"I don't know if it makes it any easier. The teams that have made it through obviously deserve to get there,'' he said. PTI

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