It’s the blame game
RICKY Ponting says star openers Brad Haddin and Shane Watson share some blame for the defeat which has Australia facing a heavyweight World Cup quarter-final against India tomorrow.
While Haddin ( 279 at 55.80) and Watson ( 265 at 53.00) have been Australia’s leading scorers at the tournament, skipper Ponting says the scoring rate from the top order – himself included – was a significant factor in the defeat by Pakistan in their final group match. The defending champions were bowled out for 176 in Colombo on Saturday, with Watson ( nine off 16 balls), No. 3 Ponting ( 19 off 33) and Haddin ( 42 off 80) either failing to fire or scoring too slowly.
‘‘ Our fielding and bowling was spoton, but we let ourselves down with the bat,’’ said Ponting, who is averaging only 20.40 at the World Cup.
‘ ‘ The middle-order would seem blame-worthy but the top order too has some part to play in that disappointing result.
‘‘ They ate up too many balls, played too many dot balls and that cost us.’’
Ponting wrote in his column in The Times of India yesterday he still felt Australia were ‘‘ right up there’’ in contention to win the World Cup despite the four-wicket defeat to end in third spot in Group A.
That was Australia’s first World Cup loss in 34 matches dating back to 1999.
‘‘ It’s always sad to lose a game, especially when it breaks a proud record,’’ said Ponting.
‘‘ I was not particularly happy at not being tested for a few weeks and our performances against Kenya and Canada were also average.’’
Australia’s six-game build-up to the quarter-finals was hamstrung by a washout against Sri Lanka in on March 5, followed by lacklustre efforts against the two minnow sides.
‘‘ In an ideal world we would have liked to have been tested more in the earlier weeks of the tournament,’’ Ponting said.
‘‘ In that sense we can view the Pakistan game as one that has helped us reassess, re-strategise and ring in changes in some problem areas.’’
Ponting’s comment about changes prompts speculation that the modestly performed spin duo of Jason Krejza and Steve Smith, with only six wickets between, could face pressure at the selection table from mediumpace bowling all-rounder John Hastings, who is suited to slow, low pitches like Ahmedabad.