Proteas fine-tune for World Cup

BASSETERRE, St Kitts - The Australian and South African squads landed on the Caribbean island of Basseterre late on Monday for scheduled practice sessions yesterday.

BASSETERRE, St Kitts - The Australian and South African squads landed on the Caribbean island of Basseterre late on Monday for scheduled practice sessions yesterday.

The teams had planned to analyse injured or out-of-form players before their opening cricket World Cup matches.

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds will increase the intensity of his training, having recently undergone biceps surgery, in a bid to be fit for Sunday's game against the Netherlands.

Matthew Hayden is expected to be named to play Scotland on Wednesday in his first match since breaking his toe against New Zealand on February 20 when he made a national one-day record 181 not out.

One-day cricket holds a unique importance in South Africa - opening bowlers Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini were rested from last month's deciding third Test against Pakistan due to the World Cup.

Ntini is still to join up with the squad after remaining in South Africa for the birth of his child.

But it is the team's batting that has Proteas coach Mickey Arthur worried after scores of 192 against Ireland and 199 against Pakistan in warm-up games.

"My priority is getting [Graeme] Smith, [AB] de Villiers, [Jacques] Kallis and [Herschelle] Gibbs into some sort of form," he said last week.

Smith, who will captain South Africa in its opening game against the Netherlands on Friday, is looking forward to playing Australia on March 24 after having won 3-2 in their last series a year ago.

"We have had success against Australia in one-day cricket of late. The last series has certainly built up a huge amount of confidence within us," he said. "I think it's a game that people watching the tournament are all looking forward to." - Sapa-AFP

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