Ponting, Hussey a hit away from top form, says Wasim


Like the Australian selectors, former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram trusts Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey to come good in the Boxing Day Test. Ponting and Hussey have been at the wrong end of the Aussie media and a clutch of former stars after the seven-run defeat to New Zealand in the second Test at Hobart earlier this month. Akram says Ponting and Hussey are just a hit away from top-form.
“I understand Ponting is short of runs. I understand he is 37, but so is Sachin (Tendulkar). If Ponting and Hussey stick around in the middle for 45 minutes or one hour, they will get back to form straightaway. Both are physically fit and mentally very tough, they just need one good innings,” Akram told Mobile ESPN from Karachi. On paper, Ponting seems to have lost his consistency by recording only one hundred in last 20 Tests. On the other hand, Hussey is averaging a mere 11.85 in his last seven Test innings. This prompted criticism from ex-stars. “One of the old boys will go, I think Hussey or Ponting will go,” said 1987 World Cup-winning skipper Allan Border a week ago. Another former skipper Mark Taylor had doubts over Ponting and Hussey’s inclusion for the first Test against India. “I reckon Shaun Marsh and Daniel Christian could play in place of one of the two old blokes. Which one? I leave that to the selectors,” opined Taylor.
But the beleaguered duo got a fresh lease of life on Saturday when they were included in the playing XI for the series-opening Boxing Day Test at Melbourne. The 1992 World Cup-winner Akram feels that Australian media’s criticism is unwarranted. “The unnecessary criticism from the media will pressurize the two batsmen. I have not seen that of late in Australian cricket. Knowing these two players, I think on Australian wickets, when a big series beckons, they will be up and ready to throw their punches,” said the ESPN-STAR Sports commentator. Victoria speedster Peter Siddle, rookie James Pattinson and recalled pacer Ben Hilfenhaus form the Australian pace battery for the Melbourne Test. Akram feels, despite the absence of injured Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins and Shane Watson, the famed Indian batting line up will have their work cut out. “Australia will not give flat decks for Indian batsmen to thrive. Their fast bowlers bowl at 145 kmph and above. If all three of them bowl at an average speed of 147-148 consistently then Indians will definitely find it tough. How they cope against it will be riveting to see,” the 45-year-old Sultan of Swing concluded.