Ricky Ponting denies that he is going to retire

World Cup news The Australian captain has no plans to retire, while Arjuna Ranatunga says Sri Lanka have best chance to win World Cup.

AHMEDABAD, INDIA // Ricky Ponting has no plans to retire, rejecting the mounting speculation today that he will stand down as the Australia captain after the World Cup

Ponting said on the eve of Australia's World Cup quarter-final against host India that he had no intention of retiring and "will be playing for a few more years."

Calls from critics and some ex-players for Ponting to quit, or at least retire from one-day international (ODI) cricket, have gathered momentum since Australia lost the Ashes series 3-1 to England at home in January.

The 36-year-old batsman has been out of form and looking increasingly frustrated in the field. He was fined for breaking a TV in a dressing room after being run-out in a group match against Zimbabwe, and flung a ball into the ground after a collision with teammate Steven Smith in another.

Australia's unbeaten 34-match run at the World Cup ended last Saturday in a four-wicket defeat to Pakistan, when Ponting was criticised for standing his ground to await the umpire's decision despite knowing he was out.

Unsourced reports in Britain and Australia suggested this week that Ponting will either be forced to quit or be fired at the end of the World Cup.

"There has been stuff about me retiring that is completely false, untrue, never contemplated retiring," Ponting said. "I am enjoying my cricket, quarter-final against India is a big game ... preparing for that."

Australia have won the last three World Cup titles, including the last two with Ponting at the helm.

Mike Hussey and the ex-deputy captain Adam Gilchrist said if the retirement speculation was designed to unsettle Ponting ahead of the crucial match against India, it would more than likely have the opposite affect.

"It's just amazing sometimes how champions just rise to the occasion at the right time," said Hussey, who said Ponting had the 100 per cent support of the World Cup squad. "Against India in the World Cup is one of those times where I think we'll see the best of Ricky Ponting."

Arjuna Ranatunga: Sri Lanka has best chance to win World Cup

The man who led Sri Lanka to their last World Cup title says the team will not have a better chance of winning the tournament for many years.

Arjuna Ranatunga, who played for Sri Lanka from 1982 to 2000, told today's The Island newspaper that playing at home in the quarter-finals and semi-finals is a huge advantage.

Playing at home was "a luxury we couldn't afford when we won the World Cup in 1996," he said. Sri Lanka beat Australia in the 1996 final in the last World Cup staged in Asia.

It was one of the most stunning runs at a World Cup to date. The Sri Lankans lost in the 2007 final to Australia at Barbados, and are among the leading contenders for the 2011 title. "

The World Cup proper begins from the quarter-final onwards and we need to start playing our best cricket," said Ranatunga, who scored 3,757 ODI runs at an average of 47.55.

Ranatunga said Sri Lanka will not have a better chance in 15 years of winning the tournament.

Sri Lanka face an inconsistent England side in Colombo could meet the winners aof New Zealand or South Africa in the semis.

Ranatunga said England will struggle against Sri Lanka's spin attack led by Muttiah Muralitharan, but should not be underestimated.

"Andrew Strauss has led England admirably in this tournament and his leadership skills have been one of the standouts for me in England's campaign."

Ranatunga said he is concerned about Sri Lanka's middle order, with Angelo Mathews, Thilan Samaraweera and Chamara Silva yet to score serious runs.

"I am glad our top order is among the runs," he said. "All four of them have made hundreds in the tournament so far."

Sri Lanka coach confident Murali will play

Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss is confident Muralitharan will recover from a hamstring injury.

Muralitharan did not bowl to his teammates in the nets today but Bayliss said the off-spinner bowled for 20 minutes in another practice facility.

Bayliss said Muralitharan has played "through a few niggles in the past and I'm sure he will be fine come game day."

Muralitharan, the world's most prolific bowler in Test and ODI cricket, was injured when he dived while batting in the last group match against New Zealand.

The off-spinner bowled with pain but managed to take four for 25 in Sri Lanka's convincing 153-run victory.

Collingwood to undergo knee surgery

Paul Collingwood is to have keyhole knee surgery at the end of England's World Cup campaign.

Collingwood, 34, who retired from Test cricket after this winter's Ashes series, has been struggling to rediscover his best form in ODI cricket.

He had scans on both his knees during England's stuttering progress in Group B but will be available for selection for Saturday's quarter-final against Sri Lanka at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium.

Surgery will immediately follow the tournament, and it is thought likely Collingwood will therefore miss a significant amount of the Indian Premier League - having been bought this year by the Rajasthan Royals.

An England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman confirmed the plan for Collingwood's operation, but made it clear he will remain with the team as long as they are involved in the World Cup.

Collingwood played in four of England's six group matches, but was dropped for the crucial victories over South Africa and West Indies in Chennai.