Ponting ‘devastated’ as Aussie reign ends


AHMEDABAD – Australia captain Ricky Ponting was devastated by the end of his side’s 12-year reign as world champions, but found comfort in making a century in his World Cup swansong. Ponting’s 104 was the cornerstone of Australia’s 260 for six, an innings that also featured 53 from opener Brad Haddin and a brisk unbeaten 38 from the recalled David Hussey.
But it was not enough with India, roared on by a capacity crowd of more than 42,000, making 261 for five thanks mainly to an unbeaten 57 from Yuvraj Singh that set up a semi-final against arch-rivals Pakistan in Mohali on March 30. The 36-year-old Ponting, a three-time World Cup winner, conceded he probably would not be playing in another edition of the showpiece event especially as his immediate future in the team is already in doubt.
“If I end up having made a hundred in my last World Cup game, then I guess I can be pretty happy at the end of the day,” said Ponting, who made a superb 140 not out when Australia beat India in the 2003 World Cup final. “I’ve never really been a stats man. What motivates me is winning games and doing the best I can to try and win games for Australia.”
Ponting said Australia had been “15 or 20 runs short” but that what had done for them was a bowling effort symbolised by erratic speedster Shaun Tait, whose seven overs cost 52 runs including two no-balls and six wides. The only consolation for the paceman was having India star Sachin Tendulkar caught behind for 53.
India won with 14 balls to spare thanks to an unbeaten partnership of 74 by Yuvraj and fellow left-hander Suresh Raina, who made 34 not out. “I’m devastated. We came here with high expectations and had come off a good series (a 6-1 win) of one-day cricket against England.” Ponting said a schedule that left Australia without a full game for a fortnight, after their clash with co-hosts Sri Lanka was washed out, hadn’t helped.
“We found it difficult at times getting a bit of momentum and continuity with the way our programme was set out but that was no excuse,” he said. “We weren’t far off, but just little critical moments are what cost us the game. We didn’t have enough high quality partnerships and not enough pressure with the ball.”
Ponting also praised longstanding opponent Tendulkar for an innings that left the ‘Little Master’ still one shy of his hundredth international hundred. “He’s playing as well as I’ve ever seen him play at the moment.”