Punter bets it right at No 1 but still ends up loser
After Mahendra Singh Dhoni's skipper act in the second ODI, it was Ricky Ponting's turn to lead from the front in Saturday's third game on a Ferozeshah Kotla pitch not conducive for stroke-making, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.cricket Updated: Nov 01, 2009 00:45 IST
After Mahendra Singh Dhoni's skipper act in the second ODI, it was Ricky Ponting's turn to lead from the front in Saturday's third game on a Ferozeshah Kotla pitch not conducive for stroke-making.
That he scored a half-century wasn't the highlight of his effort, Ponting had 71 of them before this one anyway. The standout feature was it came in an unfamiliar role.
It was only the second time he was opening the innings, in his 327th match, and it was a bold decision because it came at a time when team was besieged with injuries.
It wasn't obviously the first time he was facing a ball that was shining and hard. A regular at No. 3 for many years since making debut at No. 6 in 1995, Ponting had come out to bat early on many occasions. But the mindset of a No. 3 batsman is usually different from the way a specialist opener approaches his job.
Ponting didn't seem out of place at all.
After glancing the first ball, a loose one from Ashish Nehra, the next one he faced was timed exquisitely through the covers for four. There was hardly a hint of discomfort as he helped his team off a good start, considering the nature of the wicket which discouraged free-flowing shots.
He was right behind the ball while defending, showing the full face of the bat and placing the ball into the gaps with soft hands for singles. He was deft at clipping the ball off the pads behind and in front of the wicket and there was also the odd chip over mid-on when the spinners gave the ball air.
It was certainly not an innings that would rank among his best, but given the situation his team was in and that he came out to open, the knock of 59 should score highly in terms of courage and the quality that sets apart brave captains from others — the desire to lead from the front when the chips are down.
There was one scar in the 92-ball innings and that was in the 15th over when Ravindra Jadeja seemed to have trapped him in front of the wicket.
But umpire Amish Saheba decided otherwise and the batsman went on to add 30 more to the 29 he had before Jadeja came back from the other end and won a shout for leg-before.
India-Australia contests have tested characters in recent times. Although there was no doubt over Ponting's calibre, the decision to open at a difficult time unveiled an unseen facet of his combativeness.