Bangalore: Australian captain Ricky Ponting has taken the blame for his team’s humiliating 2-0 Test series defeat to India, saying he should have scored more runs.
Ponting passed the half-century mark in three of his four innings, but did not play a match-winning knock, unlike Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar, who emerged the player of the series.
Tendulkar compiled 403 runs in the series at average of 134.33, including a first innings 214 in the second Test in Bangalore, which India won by seven wickets on Wednesday after taking the dramatic first match in Mohali by one wicket.
Ponting, in contrast, returned with 224 runs at an average of 56, a creditable effort by any standards -- except in the eyes of the Australian captain himself.
“I don’t feel like I did my bit with the bat,” said Ponting, the second highest run-scorer in Test cricket with 12,250 runs, behind Tendulkar’s record tally of 14,240.
“When you get in and make 60 or 70, you expect to go on and make big scores. Tendulkar did it, he went on to make 200.
“If I had made 200 in the first innings, the result might have been different. We’ve all got to be harsh on ourselves.
“Three out of the four innings in the 70s is not good enough from me. I am as disappointed with the way I played as anybody else. When you get those starts, you have to capitalise.”
The series loss meant Ponting has still not won a Test in India as captain, having lost five and drawn two in seven matches at the helm since 2004.
The series turned India’s way at Mohali when the hosts, reduced to 124-8 while chasing 216 for victory, squeezed home as Venkatsai Laxman defied back spasms to make an unbeaten 73 and shared a ninth-wicket stand of 81 with tailender Ishant Sharma.
When Laxman was forced to miss the Bangalore Test, his replacement Cheteshwar Pujara shone in his debut with a match-winning second innings knock of 72 on the final day as India made light of the 207-run target.
The result enhanced India’s status as the number one Test side, while Australia slipped to fifth place in the rankings behind India, South Africa, Sri Lanka and England.
It was hardly the build-up Ponting wanted ahead of the Ashes series against England, which starts in Brisbane next month.
Ponting now has a chance to rest and contemplate, as he will sit out Australia’s three-match one-day series against India beginning in Kochi on Sunday.
The knives are out for Ponting in some quarters, with former team-mate and spin king Shane Warne questioning his field placement for off-spinner Nathan Hauritz against the free-stroking Indian batsmen.
“How the hell can Hauritz bowl to this field??” Warne said on his Twitter page during the Bangalore Test. “Feeling for Hauritz, terrible!! What are these tactics? Sorry Ricky, but what are you doing.”
Hauritz, the main spinner in the touring side, went for 2-153 in the first innings in Bangalore and 1-76 from 12 overs in the crucial second knock.
He ended the series with just six wickets from 90 overs at a cost of 390 runs.
Ponting poured scorn on Warne’s criticism.
“Every field that Nathan has had to bowl with since he’s been here has been at his request -- it’s the field he wants to bowl to,” the skipper said.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that Shane would take the time to ask anyone about that.
“There is no doubt we will all face a bit of criticism having lost two Test matches in India.
“It would be nice if they were a bit more informed before they made some of those comments though.”
Warne said Thursday that he and Ponting were still “mates” despite their public slanging match, and backed Australia to bounce back in the Ashes.