Australia v India, 3rd Test, Melbourne, 3rd day

Ponting's mastery

S Rajesh

December 28, 2003

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Ricky Ponting's magnificent double-century was remarkable not just for the sheer number of runs he scored, but also for his complete mastery over the Indian bowlers. Unlike his 242 at Adelaide, which came off a mere 352 balls, this innings was crafted over a longer period - 458 balls - but was an equally commanding performance.

What stood out was his impeccable footwork: not once in the entire innings was he caught on the crease. Ponting also adapted superbly to the slowish pitch: he was circumspect on the front foot, a wise move considering the fact that some deliveries stopped on the batsmen, but was devastating whenever he rocked back. A strike-rate of 1.5 runs per over when playing forward, and 5.4 when playing back, tells the story. It wasn't as if the Indians offered him too many short balls either: there were just 12 of them, while another 43 pitched just short of good length. However, Ponting was good enough to convert many of the 342 good-length balls he received into short ones by his excellent footwork.

Ponting's flawless footwork
Strike rate
(Runs per over)
Front foot
Back foot
Stepped out
Minimal footwork

He did offer a chance early on the third morning, but that was one of very few false strokes that he played. Of the 458 balls he faced, he was in control of 398 of them - that's nearly 87%. The bowler who troubled him the most was Anil Kumble, against whom his in-control percent was a relatively lower 81%.

In sharp contrast to Ponting's commanding batting display was the scratchy effort by Steve Waugh, who was twice reprieved by the umpires and yet managed just 19 from 69 balls. He was troubled by Kumble as well, managing an in-control percent of 72% against him, but the bowler who had him all at sea was Sachin Tendulkar: of the 10 balls he faced, Waugh failed to read six of them, including a googly which he shouldered arms to and was rapped plumb in front.

Captain-elect v Captain
Total in-control %
In-control % against Tendulkar

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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