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© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

Sydney, Nov 10 (IANS) Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has come under fire in the Australian media for attempting to save himself from suspension for slow over rate rather than push for victory to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

What on earth was he (Ponting) thinking? asks Peter Roebuck writing in the Fairfax newspapers, publishers of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. "In one of the most baffling displays of captaincy seen in the long and proud history of Australian cricket, Ricky Ponting has denied his side a deserved chance of securing a famous victory".

After securing an edge, the use of part-time bowlers by Ponting in the post tea session at Nagpur has come under scathing criticism from the Australian media.

"Presumably, it was an attempt to improve an ailing over rate. Perhaps he was worried about missing the next match. Both issues pale into insignificance besides trying with every power at his disposal to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. There was a match to win. To an almost bizarre degree, Ponting lost the plot", writes Roebuck.

"On the resumption, every man and his dog expected Ponting to throw the ball to his only spinner and one of his weary but incisive pacemen, Brett Lee or Shane Watson.....The cricketing world will be stunned", adds Roebuck.

Ponting has so far lost the only one 2005 Ashes series, but a draw Monday in the fourth Test will see India win the series 1-0 and regain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

Australia's longest-serving captain whose name adorns the trophy, Allan Border, in his television commentary said, "They let a golden opportunity slip."

Has Ponting cost Australia? asks Malcolm Conn writing in The Australian newspaper. "Instead of striving to win the fourth Test here against India with his best bowlers, Ponting used part-timers to try to improve a dreadful over rate, which would have seen him rubbed out of the first Test in Brisbane against New Zealand this month".

Under the International Cricket Council's code of conduct, if a side finishes a match more than five overs behind, the captain is automatically suspended.

"They were in a situation where skipper Ricky was going to miss the next game so they were obviously in a situation where he was going to have to bowl bowlers they wouldn't normally use. I can't understand why the fast bowlers wouldn't bowl off a short run. I don't know what's going on there", former cricketer Mark Waugh told Fox Sports.

However, Australia coach Tim Nielson has defended Ponting. "I don't think for one second Ricky hasn't pressed for the win. The consequence of bowling our fast bowlers before that was that we were down in our over rate and had a responsibility to catch that up", Nielson was quoted as saying in the Fairfax newspapers.

© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from any content is expressly prohibited without  the permission of the writer and the news agency through which the article is syndicated.  

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