Australia brace for Pakistan challenge

Colombo: Australian captain Ricky Ponting on Friday said that an unpredictable Pakistan could give his side the first real test in the World Cup and asked his bowlers to prepare for a tough outing in their Group B encounter on Saturday.

Ponting said he is relishing the challenge of locking horns with Pakistan, the last team to beat the defending champions at a World Cup. Australia have been unbeaten for the last 34 matches in the World Cup since the defeat to Pakistan at Leeds in the 1999 edition.

"The last game they played in Colombo was against Sri Lanka and they upset them there so they`ll know the conditions pretty well. So it will be our first big test," said Ponting at the pre-match press conference.

Australia have not been tested in the previous five matches in the tournament. Their match against heavyweights Sri Lanka were abandoned due to rains while they had an easy seven-wicket win.

"It`s always a great challenge playing against Pakistan because, as everybody knows, you`re just never really sure what they`re going to turn up and do on the day," Ponting said.

"They can be a very, very good side one day and, as we saw against New Zealand, they can be very, very ordinary the next. They have that sort of unpredictability about them," he said.

Ponting admitted Australia`s pace trio of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson had not been at their best so far and he expects them to fire against Pakistan.

"Against better teams and deeper batting orders, we have to make sure we don`t let teams get off to that sort of start," said Ponting, speaking about Canada`s brisk start against the Australians.

Ponting said he hoped frontline spinner Jason Krejza would benefit from his experience at the tournament so far.

"For someone like him to have that exposure, get 10 overs under his belt (against Canada) he should be better for the run," he said.

Pakistan have won three and lost four of their seven World Cup matches against Australia, including a crucial win on their way to the 1992 World Cup triumph Down Under.