It’s the blame game

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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.

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