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Too early to call us a declining force: Ponting

cricket Updated: Jan 23, 2008 11:05 IST
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Australian skipper Ricky Ponting today warned critics not to rush to a judgement about the slipping crown of the world champions after the shock defeat against India in Perth, saying it was too early to declare his team a declining force.

"I think one loss is probably a little bit early to be calling that this team is on the slide. We have had it before. We had it before the World Cup, eight or 12 months ago now, we went through the World Cup undefeated," Ponting said.

"We have just gone 16 Tests matches in a row it has only been done once before by another Australian team. I don't think we have too much to worry about just yet," he added.

Ponting refused to divulge details about the Australian team composition for the fourth and final Test and said he was still to make up his mind on whether to persist with pacer Shaun Tait or bring back spinner Brad Hogg.

"We just have to toss up in our head whether the spin is the way to go or do we try and use pace with variable bounce late in the game," he said.

"I think historically spin has probably been the preferred option for the Australian team to play in most conditions around the world."

"But when you have someone like Taity -- a wicket taker like that in the room as well, it gives you lots of options but makes your decision very difficult as well," he added.

But if spin was to be Ponting's option, the Australian skipper said he would try not to put too much pressure on Hogg.

"If he does come in, it's important we make sure he is not under too much pressure because we all do know how hard it is to perform when you do feel like your spot is on the line," Ponting said.

With his nemesis Harbhajan Singh set to return to the team, Ponting vowed not to allow 'The Turbanator' to dominate him in the match.

The right hander said he would be better prepared for the off-spinner this time around.

"I am not a huge analyser if things that have happened in the past but I will sit down, I have already this week, with the likelihood of him coming back in and have a bit of a think about how I am going to play him.

"I think a couple of times in this series he has got me out either first or second ball a couple of times, so I haven't really had a chance to try and impose myself on him too much," he said.

"If I get an opportunity against him if he plays, then hopefully I will be able to get on top and stay on top through the course of the game," he added.

The Oval track seems slow and Ponting feared India would have a lot of "incentive" going their way as the conditions suit them.

"A lot of their batsmen and obviously Anil (Kumble) might not tour Australia again so they have a lot of incentive coming into this game as a group," he remarked.

"A lot of their batsmen have had success here in the past as well, this sort of wicket with not a lot of bounce probably suits them," he added.

If that was to happen, Ponting said his side would draw on the lessons derived from the first Test in Melbourne.

"We just have to look at doing things better than we have. In Melbourne, I thought on a wicket that was slow and low we contained them really well and starved them on boundaries. That seemed to work for us," Ponting said.

He also called upon his team to show character and bounce back after being beaten rather comprehensively at WACA last week.

"I think individuals rebounding from personal failures is always a good character judgement of an individual so I guess the same could be said for a team.

"That's basically all I have said to the guys this week that we lost a game, we were always going to lose a game at some stage but it's about how you bounce back and back your own skills and judgements as a result of a loss (which is important)," he said.

Ponting said his team has identified the areas where it lacked in Perth.

"I don't think any of our guys have gone away and sat down and over-analysed things too much. We have addressed areas where we didn't play well," he said.

"You will see us come out this game and be very aggressive and very positive and really try and force the issue in this game," he added.

The skipper, however, made it clear that Australia will not compromise on the essential nature of their aggressive style of play.

"One thing I stressed was that I didn't want our style of game of cricket to change whatsoever. We only know one way to play and that's not a result of playing cricket for Australia," he said.

"That's a result of growing up playing cricket in Australia, in club cricket, in state cricket you learn about the way to play the game," he added.