It’s time to fire up
World Cup setback forces Ponting to up the ante
RICKY Ponting has turned up the heat on Australia’s middle-order to fire in the sudden-death phase as Pakistan exposed some worrying flaws in their World Cup defence.
Australia suffered a mid-innings collapse of 6-72 in their four-wicket loss Saturday night, with Michael Clarke ( 34), the out-of-sorts Cameron White ( 8), Michael Hussey ( 12) and Steve Smith ( 25) all failing to go on after topscorer Brad Haddin ( 42) had steered the side to 1-75 in the 18th over.
Their 176 all-out was their lowest total at a World Cup in nearly two decades after England rolled Australia for 171 at the SCG in the 1991-92 tournament.
The three-time champions are facing a daunting quarter-final elimination against India and Ponting fears a similar batting performance could prove fatal against the tournament favourites. ‘‘ We’ve found ourselves in s o me t o u g h s i t u a t i o n s ( a g a i n s t Pakistan) and we weren’t good enough to get out of them," Ponting said.
‘‘ We have to learn from that, and we have to learn from that quickly, because if we play India in Ahmedabad, then you can guarantee the same situations are going to pop up again, and well have to handle them a whole lot better than we did here.
‘‘ The way we batted was nowhere near good enough to win a World Cup game against a good Pakistan side. We have some thinking to do about that, the way we batted.
‘‘ To be one for nearly 80 and get 176 is not good enough, it won’t win you many games of cricket.
‘‘ There’s no excuses from us. We had everything in our favour. We won the toss on a good wicket, we had our chance to post a good score.
‘‘ We didn’t do it, we let a game slip. We have to learn from it. We have to move on pretty quickly, make sure when we play whoever we play next we play a lot better than we did ( against Pakistan)."
Former Test captain Ian Chappell said the loss – Australia’s first in 35 World Cup matches – would serve as a timely wake-up call ahead of the knockout stage.
‘‘ Looking at the Australian side, everytime I heard the term ‘ the only side that’s unbeaten still in the World Cup’ it just didn’t sound right to me," Chappell said. ‘‘ They weren’t playing that well that you looked at them and said, ‘ this is a side that is unbeaten’.
‘‘ And maybe it’s not a bad thing for them that they got it ( a defeat) out of the way before the knockout stage.
‘‘ It would be terminal if it happened in the knockout stage." Of the middle order, White is particularly struggling.
He scored just 58 runs in five innings at the World Cup at 19.33. But Ponting launched a strident defence of the bighitting Victorian, who was run out against Pakistan.
‘‘ There was not much ‘ Whitey’ could do either, on the end of a run-out, so you can’t blame him for his dismissal," he said.
‘‘ He’ll be disappointed not to have made runs in the game, like the rest of us, but there’s not much he can do about it.
‘‘ To be honest, I don’t think the loss will hurt us at all.
‘‘ The fact that we’ve played a good Pakistan team and come up short will get all the guys thinking about the way they need to play to win World Cup games."