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Ponting surprised by Tendulkar no-show

Ricky Ponting says he was surprised that Sachin Tendulkar didn't come out to bat in his regular number four position as India lost a couple of early second innings wickets.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2003 16:39 IST

Ricky Ponting says he was surprised that Sachin Tendulkar didn't come out to bat in his regular number four position as India lost a couple of early second innings wickets late on the third day of the third cricket Test here on Sunday.

Tendulkar, who has been having a torrid tour with four failures while his batting teammates have largely prospered, did not appear as expected when India lost their second wicket at 19 as they attempted to erase a 192-run innings deficit against Australia.

Instead captain Sourav Ganguly came into bat and was still there at stumps on six along with Rahul Dravid with India shaky at 27 for two and still 165 runs from forcing Australia to bat again in the Test.

Tendulkar has made scores of 0, 1, 37 and 0 so far in the series and Indian spinner Anil Kumble said it was Ganguly's decision to come in ahead of his high-profile teammate.

But that wasn't the feeling of Ponting, who dominated the third day with his Test-best score of 257 in Australia's first innings 558.

"I was very surprised but he is under a lot of pressure at the moment and obviously they have a lot of thoughts and reasons why he didn't come out at No.4," Ponting said at his post-match conference.

"We've got to get him out sometime, but it would have been nice if we had him out there tonight, but it wasn't to be, so we'll have to wait until he comes out tomorrow and hopefully get him out cheaply."

Ponting, who takes over as Australian captain when Steve Waugh steps down after next week's Sydney Test, said it was a situation that would not happen in the Australian team.

"If they think that's the right thing then that's what they do," he said.

"It probably wouldn't happen in our side, I'm not saying if that's the right or the wrong thing.

"It was a high-pressure situation there tonight and he (Tendulkar) has obviously been feeling a bit of pressure so it will tell tomorrow if it was the right decision.

"If he makes a lot of runs tomorrow then it will probably be the right decision, but if he doesn't you can say anything you like about it."

Kumble, who toiled away for 51 overs to take 6-176 in Australia's innings, said India's in-form middle order could still put the pressure back on Australia over the last two days of the Test.

But the obvious key will be Tendulkar, who has been a major disappointment so far in this series.

Kumble said the Test was "still open" pointing out Dravid, Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman were in great touch.

"We are quite positive, it would have been nice to keep all 10 wickets intact, but we still have four batsmen and three of them have scored centuries on this tour," Kumble said.

"One (Tendulkar) is yet to fire and I'm sure he is looking forward to that.

"If he can have a good start tomorrow, that's the crucial part."

Kumble had to do even more of the bowling work because paceman Zaheer Khan was well below full fitness after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring injury early in the Australian innings.

"It's really a tough, tough time - we had a hard day yesterday and today," Kumble said.

"We just have to come back. In these conditions you need to be patient ... in the (Australian) top order, everyone averages close to 50, some of them are above 50."

First Published: Dec 28, 2003 16:39 IST