India, Australia and S. Africa land; India to play warm-up matches

  • We have come to the Caribbean to win: Ricky Ponting
  • Hopefully we will peak at the right time: Graeme Smith

    Jamaica: The Indian cricket team arrived here with hopes of reclaiming the World Cup after nearly a quarter century when the ninth edition of the quadrennial event starts in the Caribbean on March 13.

    The 15-member squad led by Rahul Dravid reached the picturesque sea resort in Montego Bay accompanied by support staff and officials.

    After playing two warm-up matches, India kicks off its campaign against Bangladesh on March 17 at Port of Spain, Trinidad.

    India's two practice matches would be against The Netherlands (March 6) and host West Indies (March 9) at the Trelawny Stadium here.

    The league opener is slated to be held at India's happy hunting Test ground, Queen's Park Oval.

    India is scheduled to play its remaining two group ties also at the same venue, on March 19 (vs. Bermuda) and March 23 (vs. Sri Lanka).

    Australia confident

    Meanwhile, two-time defending champion Australia and No. 1-ranked South Africa arrived in the Caribbean on Thursday, both confident of claiming the title.

    "We have come to win it, otherwise it won't have made much sense coming," Australian captain Ricky Ponting said. "We're still the team to beat and the other 15 sides know that well."

    Ponting spoke after he and his team arrived in Barbados en route to St. Vincent. Australia will play two warm-up matches before moving on to St. Kitts for the first round.

    "We have a lot to live up to and we know that," he said. "We had a few bad results over the last few weeks, where we lost five straight games, and we want to put that right."

    Smithspeak

    Graeme Smith led the South Africans into Trinidad, a bit weary but still steadfast.

    "Quite naturally we are extremely proud of the No. 1 ranking," Smith said. "We all take pride in that achievement, but that was built up over two years of playing good, tough cricket and beating some of the best teams in the world consistently.

    "Obviously it's flattering to be pencilled in as favourites, but this is a different situation. To win this event you will have to play all the top teams and beat them on the day, which isn't always easy. Hopefully we will peak at the right time, but for now we just want to get stuck in and go to work."

    The South Africans were the first team to arrive in Trinidad and Tobago for the warm-up phase of the competition, and will swing into action on Monday against Ireland at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine.

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