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Australia's media on Thursday praised Ricky Ponting's inexperienced side for retaining the title of the world's top Test team in South Africa, declaring them favourites for this year's Ashes.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph said the side had performed beyond expectations after pundits, including the newspaper, had written-off their chances when they recently lost a home Test series against a strong Proteas outfit.

"We had Australia 'dead and buried' as of December 31, 2008," the newspaper said, referring to one of it's headlines on Australia's prospects.

"So it's hats off to Ricky Ponting and company and humble pie to the rest of us as we celebrate one of the great offshore wins in Australian cricket history.

"Pound for pound it might even be the best of the lot -- for although Australia have beaten everyone, everywhere over the past decade, they have never done so with a 20-year-old opening batsman, three bowlers playing their first full series and a new number six."

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