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After the initial wobble, class comes into play

india Updated: Dec 27, 2011 01:54 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Rohit Bhaskar
Hindustan Times
Rohit Bhaskar


When Ricky Ponting walked out to bat on Monday, you didn't have to be an Aussie fan to root for him. You didn't even have to be a cricket fan to cross your fingers every time he tangled his legs.

Is there anything more appealing in professional sport than seeing an ageing great looking to recapture lost glory, defying critics and nonbelievers?

Or wait, don't think about that. Ponting is still searching for his happy ending, and an at-times-magical, at-times-comical 62 at the MCG on Monday just bought him more time.

The roar accompanying his entrance wasn't the one you'd hear when he was plundering runs and leading the all-conquering boys of cricket. Even in his pomp, even in Australia, Ponting's entrance would signal the obligatory boos from the opposition fans. On Monday, none of 70,068 fans who braved the gloomy, early morning weather found it in their heart to do so.

A second ball bouncer, which he would have pulled for a six earlier in his career, crashed into the helmet grill. A ball later, he fell over while trickling one down the leg-side. His footwork was patchy as he tripped a few more times.

If rookie pacer Umesh Yadav rattling his helmet wasn't enough, soon the Indians were actually attacking him with short balls. The bowlers were keen to rub insult on injury, except that they only played into his hands.

Once he got his pull shot going, dispatching a Zaheer Khan ball - almost falling over again - to the boundary, he began to find his range and grow in confidence.

For all the talk of his poor run, Ponting notched up his third half-century in his last five Test innings. Of course, when you have 39 Test tons, half-centuries just don't cut it anymore. On the evidence of this innings, however, the moment when Ponting takes off his helmet and raises his arms skywards is not far away.