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Ponting responding to responsibility

Ricky Ponting believes the extra responsibility of batting at No.3 for Australia has made him the hottest batsman in Test cricket.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2003 16:44 IST

Ricky Ponting believes the extra responsibility of batting at No.3 in the Australian batting order has made him the hottest batsman in Test cricket.

The 29-year-old captain-in-waiting anchored Australia's massive first innings of 558 with a Test-best 257 in nearly 10 hours' batting for his third double-century of the year.

Ponting joined the legendary Don Bradman as the only players in Test cricket to score three double-centuries in a calendar year as he batted Australia into a formidable position to square the series at 1-1 over the final two days of the third Test, at Melbourne.

In just the previous Adelaide Test Ponting displayed his enhanced levels of discipline and concentration to score his previous highest Test score of 242. He is the highest-scoring batsman in Test cricket this calendar year heading into the final days of 2003.

Ponting, who will take over as captain when Steve Waugh retires after the Sydney Test, broke teammate Matthew Hayden's Australian record of 1,391 runs accumulated in 2001 and was leading with 1,472 runs at an average of 98.1.

Ponting puts down his growing maturity as a Test batsman to his elevation to No.3 during Australia's 2001 Ashes tour of England.

"It goes back to my elevation in the order to No.3," Ponting said on Sunday.

"I think it's been the biggest change in my game, the extra responsibility of being the No.3 batsman, it's something I've always been used to batting that high in the order.

"When I first came into the Test side I batted at six and it took a little while to get used to, the more responsibility for me batting at No.3 gives me more opportunities to succeed and I've made the most of it."

Ponting eschews batting records and said he gave them little thought.

"I don't think anything about those things really," he said. "It's nice to have your name mentioned with some of those players of the past of the game, but that's as far as it goes with me.

"I will turn up tomorrow and hopefully take a few catches and hopefully be part of a winning Test team, that's what it's all about as far as I am concerned."

Only West Indian Viv Richards (1,710 runs in 1976) and Englishman Michael Vaughan (1,481 in 2002) have scored more runs than Ponting in a calendar year.

Ponting has scored six centuries this year, more than any other batsman in world cricket.

Ponting, who occupied the crease for 590 minutes with 26 boundaries off 458 balls, raised his double century with a single off Ashish Nehra and ran on to the outfield with his arms raised to the acclaim of the home crowd.

"The last couple of weeks have been pretty good for me and in fact the last 12 months have been great, the consistency is the biggest thing for me this year," Ponting said.

First Published: Dec 28, 2003 15:25 IST