AHMEDABAD // An entire generation has grown up knowing only Australia's total domination of the one-day arena. After three successive World Cup wins, they face perhaps their greatest test — a quarter-final against India in Ahmedabad's 40°C heat, in front of 48,388 partisan and extremely loud fans.
Ricky Ponting thumped 140 in the 2003 final against India, but has not made an international hundred in more than a year.
He was understandably terse while brushing aside retirement rumours, but admitted that today's game represented a massive challenge.
"It's one of the biggest games I have played as captain," he said. "Certainly one of the most exciting and hopefully one of the most enjoyable.
"Whichever way you look at it, you are going to be playing in front of a packed house against a very good Indian team in a World Cup."
A very dry and slow surface is expected to favour the Indians, but Ponting was confident that Australia could maintain their outstanding record on the subcontinent.
"The reason why we train as hard as we do is so that when you get out on the field, you just relax and let your instincts take over," he said.
"We know that we need to play with freedom, with some conviction. We need the Australian way," he added.
For him, the game also represents a clash of cricketing styles, with India's spin-heavy bowling line-up pitted against Australian pace.
"I'd expect that we are going to face at least 30 overs of spin and they can probably be assured that they will be facing at least 30 overs of fast bowling.
"Two contrasting ways, but the strengths of each team. If we can have our fast bowlers bowling well at their batsmen, then we have a good chance."
In recent times, sledging has taken a back seat.
"It's not what you say on or off the field, it's about how you perform under pressure and we have a great record of doing that," said Ponting, who yesterday hinted that he would spend the evening rolling back the years.
"I think I might watch the video of that  a few times, remind myself of all the good things," he said.
"It's good to look back and make sure things are in order. For me, knowing that I've been able to perform well like that in big games in the past is something to reflect on."