It’s time to fire up

World Cup set­back forces Ponting to up the ante

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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."

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