It’s an open secret that Ricky Ponting and his men are wary of Harbhajan Singh. For the Australia skipper to imply that India might be putting up a smokescreen regarding the off-spinner’s injury, proves how important he is to the hosts’ scheme of things.
“I don’t think he is doubtful. The day (Monday) he twisted his ankle, he spent the evening bowling at the Sector 16 Cricket Stadium in Chandigarh. However, if he doesn’t play, they still have spinners like Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha to take his place,” Ponting said on the eve of the first Test.
Ponting knows his team cannot afford a let-up in the two-Test series and that a confident start will set the tone.
“We love to come here and win. It is about remaining competitive and giving ourselves a chance to win,” the skipper said, but was quick to add that this was not a revenge series.
Ponting is alive to his shortcomings in the sub-continent and said he wanted to set his batting record straight. “I have never mastered playing in these conditions but the last series, I made lots of strides. We are well-prepared and everyone knows their roles,” he said.
Ponting, perhaps on his last tour to India, expressed awe at Sachin Tendulkar’s transformation at age 37 and sent out a message to his critics who have been saying the Aussie is past his best.
“I am 35 but I am not still past my best. I will see what this series and the Ashes hold and then see where it goes. I am more focused on my preparedness and fitness as those are the factors I can control,” he said, adding, “Sachin has made six hundreds in the last 12 months and he his 37. I think I want to keep going till I can.”
Ponting said it was good the series lacked the verbal build-up and believed both sides understood the limits. “I think it’s the responsibility of both the teams to stay within limits and make sure this series is played in the right spirit. We have to make sure everything goes well as the image of the game has taken a beating with events that’ve unfolded in the last few weeks,” he said.