Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting feels India “let themselves down” by not bowling fuller in the ongoing World Test Championship final but praised pacer Mohammed Siraj for his tenacity, calling him the “ultimate competitor”.
Siraj (4/108) bowled his best, but India could not stop Australia from amassing 469 runs in the first innings at The Oval, with Travis Head (163) and Steve Smith (121) scoring centuries.
Siraj was perhaps the only bright spot for India with the ball as he accounted for Usman Khawaja (zero), Head, Pat Cummins (nine) and Nathan Lyon (nine) to bring up his 50 wickets in Test cricket.
“I loved seeing that and he looks like the ultimate competitor. Maybe sometimes he gets carried away and goes a little bit over the top, but you need those guys by your side when things aren’t going well,” Ponting told the ICC on Thursday.
The right-arm bowler attacked Australia with short pitch deliveries and also showed much-needed aggression on the field, which impressed Ponting.
“He was the one today (Thursday) who said I am going to be the guy that is going to turn things around, and what I loved was that his pace didn’t drop at all during the whole innings.
“From the first ball yesterday morning until late this afternoon, his pace was hovering around that 86 or 87-mile and hour mark and that says a lot about a great attitude.” Ponting feels Indian bowlers should have looked to bowl fuller lengths instead of bowling short.
“I think where they let themselves down was in the first hour yesterday and bowling too short. With the wicket conditions, the overhead conditions they had and the brand new Dukes ball, they had to bowl fuller and get the ball driven back down the ground,” he said.
“They needed to have Australia four or five down at lunch and they only had them two down which was a pretty good result (for Australia),” said Ponting, recalling the first session on the opening day, which so far has been the best in terms of assistance to fast bowlers.
Without getting into the discussion of whether India should have played Ravichandran Ashwin in the WTC final, Ponting said India’s decision to play four seamers might pay its dividends later in the game.
“I know the captain wears the brunt of it (criticism), but I know it’s not only his decision. I saw Rahul Dravid and him (Rohit Sharma) out in the middle yesterday morning and they had a long discussion about what they wanted to do at the toss.” Ponting said.
“If they wanted to bowl first I think they had to play the four seamers. So far you would say it hasn’t paid off — but there is a long way to go and we probably shouldn’t be too quick to judge,” he added.
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