Melbourne: India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been drawing flak for his captaincy after the back-to-back Test defeats to England but his admirers for calling Ian Bell back from being ruled run-out has kept increasing, with veteran Australian batsman Ricky Ponting joining the list.
Ponting, who is now in Sri Lanka for a full tour, was impressed with Dhoni`s sportsmanship during the second Test at Trent Bridge, when the England batsman walked off believing it was tea and was then run out.
"The right outcome has been met (with Bell`s recall), which is what you want to see in the game. That`s a good sign for international cricket," Ponting said.
Ponting reckoned that Dhoni is a different captain than Anil Kumble who led the Indian side during the acrimonious tour of Australia in late 2007 and early 2008, which was marred by the racial row involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds.
"From the outside Dhoni has always been pretty willing to play the right way," Ponting said.
"Four years ago there was a different captain and he had a fair bit to say about different things. I thought he was way out of line with some of the things that he said," said the former Australian captain.
Ponting said Australia`s home series against India, starting December, will still be a closely contested one despite his side`s decline in the recent past.
"I think they`re a lot different when they play us and Dhoni himself has made that pretty clear. He says he`s a walker against everybody except Australia. We`ll wait and see how they go out here. It will be a good contest," he said.
"Every contest we`ve had against them for 10 years has been a good contest, whether it was Twenty20, one-day or a Test match, it`s been great cricket."
The doting father that he is, Ponting said he will abandon the tour of Sri Lanka at a moment`s notice if the birth of his second child comes sooner than expected.
Ponting`s wife Rianna is due to give birth just a week after the last Test late next month but, with his three-year-old daughter Emmy born more than a month early, he expects to dash off at any time during the ODI series or three Tests that follow.
"Emmy was five weeks early so the likelihood of second one being early is pretty high. We`ve got all sorts of plans in place if it happens to come early, but it`s pretty hard to make any concrete plans because we`re not exactly sure when it`s going to happen," Ponting said.
"It`s going to happen in the latter half of the month if she goes full term, but I`ve got a funny feeling she won`t. I`m not too far away from Colombo at any time nor too far away from a flight. If she looks like going early I`ll just have to make some decisions there and then," Ponting said.
Despite his achievements as the most successful Test captain in history and the most prolific Australian batsman of all time, cricket pales when it comes to family.
"Fatherhood has been unbelievable and as it turned out it was Emmy`s third birthday this week. We had a big party for her at home. It was the best day of my life the day that she was born. The things you achieve in cricket are nice, but these things are the most valuable to me.”
"All sorts of things have happened during my cricket career, but nothing compares to becoming a father and seeing your young ones develop. She`s at kindy now. Dropping her off and picking her up has been great," he said.
"This break has really been a good opportunity to get a bit closer to her because, during the last couple of years, I`ve been away a lot. They sound like minor things, dropping her at kindy and picking her up, but it gives you a different sort of happiness," said Ponting.