Ricky Ponting is among the most energetic figures in the Australian squad. There is always a spring in his step when his team works out on the field. He constantly keep moving around, inspiring and goading his teammates to put in that little extra that shows when the No.1 ranked ODI team gets into action.
The picture was very different at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium on Tuesday when the Australians arrived for practice in the afternoon. The players walked two laps around the ground, presumably to get a feel of the conditions. Ponting brought up the rear instead of leading from the front as he normally does.
Head down and the characteristic energy missing, the captain of two successive World Cup triumphs looked subdued. With the runs from his bat drying up, the Ashes debacle not forgotten yet and a knockout match coming up against India next, Ponting had reasons to be worried. A finger injury has also not helped matters for the 36-year-old.
He has lost his cool more than once in this tournament. He was officially reprimanded for flinging in disgust a part of his batting gear and damaging a TV in the dressing room after being dismissed cheaply in the first game here against Zimbabwe on February 21.
What lies ahead?
Asked about Ponting’s future as captain, Michael Hussey jumped to his defence. “At present, he is the best man to do the job and he has the full support of the team. He has been a fantastic player and it’s amazing how champions rise to the occasion in big games. We expect him to do that on Thursday.”
One of the most successful captains and prolific batsmen the game has seen, Ponting also holds the dubious distinction of losing three Ashes series as captain. About 48 hours before a make-or-break game, he is under the kind of pressure he has not ever experienced in his career. A veteran of 358 ODIs, the next game has much at stake for his team and himself.