Ricky Ponting is serious about getting down to business in the Hero Honda Cup seven-match one-day series against India. Australia has not lost a bilateral one-day series in India or a multi-nation competition for nine years in India, an achievement Ponting says Australia is proud of.
In the absence of Michael Clarke — a crucial player in the Australian middle order — Ponting is not certain how events will unfold in the series, although on arriving here he said that his team would be eager to stay on top of the Indian bowling and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team. He said people can be critical of his far from impressive display with the bat in Tests in India (12 Tests, 438 runs, one hundred and two fifties); an average of 20.86 suggests he has struggled to cope against the Indian spinners, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh in particular.
In the one-day format though, Harbhajan has not been able to check the Australians; he’s taken 24 wickets in 28 matches at an average of 48.54 and in India, it is even worse. It is 10 wickets in 15 matches at 66.80.
In the 50-over format, however, Ponting has punished the Indian bowling, amassing 1778 runs in 49 matches (five hundreds, six fifties, average 40.41).
Hence he’s hoping he would make his 50th one-day against India a memorable one at Vadodara on Sunday. Proof of his better showing with the bat in India is seen in the collection of 720 runs in 18 matches with two centuries and three half-centuries.
Moreover Ponting has been most effective while batting first against India. His aggregate is 1278 runs with five centuries and four half centuries for an average of 49.15.
The Australians do not believe that past records would be enough to intimidate the rival bowling. Ponting said that a few years ago the Australian team had experienced players in the opening and middle order.
“In the next few days we are going to look at how we are going to structure our batting line-up in order to have certain players batting for periods of time. We don’t want a bad injury in the course of the one-day game.
“That’s part of my job as captain. It comes down to me and the coach and not the selectors. Maybe we will spring a surprise on India,” said Ponting. With Clarke and Callum Ferguson not in the team because of injuries, Ponting believes Shane Watson and Tim Paine are delivering the goods with Watson being in excellent touch.
In his absence Cameron White batted at No. 3 against England in the first three matches of the NatWest series. But the batting is bound to revolve around Ponting in India.
It is the middle order he’s somewhat worried about. “But I think I have played some of the best one-day cricket in the last two months,” he said.