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Ganguly targets Hayden, Ponting as key wickets

Ponting is averaging 126.80 and Hayden 71, putting them well ahead of the other Australian batsmen.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2003 13:44 IST

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly has targeted prolific scorers Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden as the key wickets for a series-winning victory in the fourth Test against Australia starting on Friday.

Ponting and Hayden have been Australia's undoubted stars in the series, with their performances in Melbourne separating the two teams in the third Test as Australia rallied to level the series 1-1 after winning by nine wickets.

Ponting is averaging 126.80 and Hayden 70.80, putting them well ahead of the other Australian batsmen going into the final Sydney Cricket Ground Test of what has been an engrossing series between two of the best batting teams in world cricket.

Ganguly indicated that the home team's batting tapered off behind the opener Hayden and the No.3 Ponting.

"I have made a point of not saying anything controversial on this tour," said Ganguly when pressed about Australia's batting after the third Test.

"But that's the key area, Hayden and Ponting. They are scoring a lot of runs at present and if we can (get them out cheaply) there will be a lot of pressure on the guys coming in the middle."

Of Australia's other batsmen, opener Justin Langer, after making 121 in the first innings of the series in Brisbane, has tapered off dramatically, adding only another 84 runs in five innings for an average of 34.17.

No.4 Damien Martyn has made a run of solid scores to average 51.75 but seldom goes beyond the 30s and 40s before getting out.

Martyn's last Test century was almost two years ago and he has gone 22 innings without raising a hundred.

Steve Waugh, in the midst of his farewell series, is averaging 36.75 against the Indians and has yet to play a big innings while Simon Katich has yet to establish himself at No.6.

Katich has averaged 37.75, but skipper Waugh has spent more time talking about the left-armer's bowling potential than his batting.

And the one Australian batsman really struggling for runs is No.7 and wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.

Gilchrist has not passed 43 in the series and is averaging 21.50 - well below his career average of 57.44.

The value of Hayden and Ponting can be seen in the fact the only innings in which they both failed substantially was the second innings in the second Adelaide Test when Ponting made a duck and Hayden 17 as Australia was bowled out for 196 and lost the Test by four wickets.

First Published: Dec 31, 2003 11:28 IST