Ponting has a big point to prove in India

Ricky Ponting would be keen to set right his poor record when he leads his team to India later this month for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

updated: September 15, 2008 14:30 IST
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For a man who has scored over 10,000 runs in Test cricket, Ricky Ponting's meagre tally of 172 of that glut of runs on Indian soil is a baffling fact.

The Australian skipper, who has recovered from a wrist surgery, would be keen to set right his poor record when he leads his team to India later this month to engage the hosts in the best-of-four contest for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Ponting, by and far, has had an outstanding international career - having led his country to two World Cup victories in 2003 and 2007, besides having been part of the triumphant 1999 squad led by Steve Waugh.

He's the only current international batsman looking capable of overtaking Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar in the number of Test hundreds when both finish their career.

The Tasmanian stroke-maker has 35 hundreds in 119 Tests as compared to Tendulkar's 39 in 150 and the former, who is also two years younger, currently holds a superb average of 58-plus, nearly four points ahead of the Indian champion's.

But all these records may count for little for Indian fans if the Australian skipper fails to deliver with the bat in the Test rubber unlike on previous visits to this country.

Ponting, who has struck two double hundreds against India in home conditions, has not crossed 60 in eight Tests played previously in this country, his best knock having come at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on the 1998 tour.

Somehow, an Indian visit has seen the fine Aussie batsman unable to stamp his authority on the bowlers, his abysmal average of 12.28 being an ample indication of his struggles in the past.

In contrast to his poor display in this country, the 33-year-old Ponting has amassed 1349 runs in 11 Tests at home against the Indian attack, a feat which has helped him average close to 80 per innings in Australia.

So, what has prevented the fleet-footed predominantly front-footed batsman from repeating his success on Indian soil against the same set of bowlers?

Former India captain Chandu Borde explained that Ponting, who has made four visits to India for playing Tests, has just not shown the requisite patience to do well here.

"He's a player who prefers to play on the rise and on the front foot. In Australia the bounce is truer than on Indian wickets where the ball keeps low and also turns a bit more. He has not shown enough patience, but on good wickets can still perform well," the former Test middle order batsman said.

Borde also believes that the Australians generally are more susceptible to off spin as indicated by the success tasted by Erapalli Prasanna (57 wickets in 13 Tests), Shivlal Yadav (55 wickets in 13 Tests) and Harbhajan Singh (64 wickets in 11 Tests, the break-up being 55 in seven Tests in India and the rest on Australian soil).

"Our off spinners have generally done well against the Australian batsmen and I'm particularly happy with the way Harbhajan bowled in Sri Lanka. He seems to have recaptured his former self," the ex-chief selector said.

To make matters interesting in the build-up to the Australian team's visit is the fact that Harbhajan has dismissed Ponting eight times in his career while Anil Kumble has done it on seven occasions.

The Aussie skipper definitely has a big battle on his hands to set right his dismal past record in India.