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Ponting taken to task for toss decision by media

Sydney: Skipper Ricky Ponting`s decision to bat first with disastrous results for Australia in the second Headingley Test against Pakistan was roundly condemned by the Australian press on Thursday.

The Australians were routed for just 88 on the first day for their lowest innings since they were bowled out for 76 by the West Indies in Perth in 1984.

Pakistan then built on their bowlers` magnificent work to be 148 for three at stumps.

Reaction was expectedly skewed against Ponting`s choice to bat after winning the toss on a seaming Leeds pitch with dire consequences.

Tim Paine, last man out, top scored with 17 as Pakistan`s three main seamers shared the wickets, with left-armer Mohammad Aamer taking three for 20, including two in the first two balls after lunch, in 11 overs.

The Australian Associated Press said Ponting would live to regret his decision to bat first.

"It was Australia`s fifth batting collapse in six Tests on English soil and the performance provided further evidence of the side`s inability to cope with the swinging ball in this country," AAP`s Tom Wald said.

"Since his fateful decision to send England in at Edgbaston in 2005, Ponting has batted first in the 27 times that he has won the toss.

"But from the outset on Wednesday, this looked like a decision he will live to regret."

The Daily Telegraph said Australia endured one of their darkest days in Test cricket history when they folded meekly against Pakistan.

"Ponting came under pressure for his decision to bat first in seaming conditions, like he did in Sydney in January when Australia was bowled out for 127 in its first innings before conjuring its great escape act," the paper`s Ben Dorries wrote.

Shane Warne questioned whether Ponting had made the right decision by batting under heavy skies in a venue renowned for seam and swing.

"I would have bowled first," Warne said. "You also look at the conditions and there was rain about."

The Australian newspaper said Pakistan paceman Umar Gul voiced the thoughts of many people about Australia`s worst Test cricket batting total in 26 years when he described Ponting`s choice to bat on a seaming Headingley pitch as "a shocking decision".

Meanwhile, with England due to begin the defence of the Ashes in Australia in November, British newspapers rejoiced in the collapse,

"Any chance we can play you for the Ashes NOW, Ricky?", asked a headline in the tabloid Daily Mail.

Paul Newman, the Mail`s cricket correspondent, wrote: "The facts make such unbelievable reading that they will bring joy not only to Pakistan but also to England as they look forward to their Ashes defence."

"Strewth," a word once widely used in Australia to indicate astonishment, was the headline in the London Daily Telegraph.

The paper`s Scyld Berry, also the editor of Wisden Cricketers` Almanack, the sport`s annual of record, said Australia`s collapse was symptomatic of a currently widespread inability to play swing bowling.

"In common with international batsmen the world over, most of today`s Australians resemble battery-reared chickens, unable to feed themselves if sent out into the real world," Berry wrote.

"Swing is their Achilles heel - yet even Achilles and a bunch of his fellow Greeks, after a couple of net sessions, would have cobbled together more than 88."

Bureau Report

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