'Ultra-impressive' Ishant denied us Perth win: Ponting

Ponting feels his team could have won the crucial Perth Test but for that awesome spell by Ishant Sharma was lucky to be part of a great sporting duel.

updated: November 21, 2008 11:35 IST
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Australia captain Ricky Ponting feels his team could have won the crucial third Test at Perth but for that awesome spell by India pacer Ishant Sharma during the hosts second innings and said he was lucky to be part of a great sporting duel.

"I will always reckon that if I could have got through just one more over in our second innings, then we might still have won," Ponting wrote in his 'Captain's Diary 2008'.

"Tall, lean, ultra-impressive Ishant Sharma, playing just his fourth Test and still eight-and-a-half months short of his 20th birthday, had bowled an awesome spell to me: seven overs when he was fast, aggressive and relentless, where I never felt as if I was truly 'in'," he said.

Ponting lamented that Australia, who had never lost a Test to a team from the sub-continent at the difficult WACA track, went down to India by 72 runs in January this year.

"But even with his heroics, we were 2-117 seeking 413, I was 45 not out, Mike Hussey was 26 not out and I sensed Sharma was about to be taken off. However, ...Kumble gave his teenage quick one more over.

"First ball, I pushed forward at a delivery that fizzed through and edged a straightforward catch to Dravid at first slip. From then on, whenever we seemed we might be a chance to reach our imposing target, we faltered," he added.

Ponting, however, said he cherished his duel with the Delhi speedster as it was a great cricketing moment which put the bitterness of Sydney Test behind.

"Though that personal battle with Ishant Sharma ended badly, it still remains a positive memory for me because it reminded me of what it is that makes Test cricket such a fantastic experience. All the off-field angst and argy-bargy of the previous 12 days was forgotten, and this contest between bat and ball took precedence," Ponting said.

The Tasmanian right-handed batsman confessed he needed to utilise all his skill and sharpness to counter the gangling 6'4" bowler with an unusual bowling style.

"The match was on the line, and I knew I was facing an impressive and challenging opponent, and that I needed all my skill and sharpness if I was to survive.

"Sharma was bringing everything back into me, a right-handed batsman, at some speed, a style of bowling I don't see all that often. His pace and accuracy were such that if he bowled a straight one, it had the same effect as a leg-cutter. That was the ball that eventually got me.

"...It was not a quick Perth wicket so I could not trust the bounce enough to try to pull him. At times, I felt I was pinned down his end... but I knew I had the ability to win this duel, I worked very hard to see him off, but on this occasion he was too good for me.

"So many people, including coach Tim Nielsen, commented on how it was an unbelievable spell of bowling. It was a great sport and I was lucky to be a part of it."

Ponting said it was frustrating that the series against India would be accounted in history for its controversies rather than such great moments.

"I guess it's frustrating that when people recall this series, they won't think so much about great cricketing moments such as that spell, but about all the controversy and off-field shenanigans," he said.