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March 24, 2011
Ricky Ponting arrived in India in early February, confident that his team could win a fourth consecutive World Cup. Less than a week ago, Australia remained the only undefeated team in the tournament, and his hopes remained high. He will fly home a bitterly disappointed man, after Australia were knocked out in the quarter-finals by India in Ahmedabad.
"I'm devastated," Ponting said after the five-wicket defeat. "We came here with high expectations; we had a well organised group that had come off a good series of one-day cricket against England. 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.
"We had plenty of time to train and we got to a stage where we thought we could win a game today [Thursday]. 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. It only takes a couple of those little moments for things to change."
Ponting certainly did his part with a captain's hundred, but wickets kept falling throughout the Australian innings. There were only two half-century stands in the innings, between Ponting and Brad Haddin and later Ponting and David Hussey, and the visitors never quite got on top of the Indian attack. R Ashwin opened the bowling and immediately found some sharp spin, and the Australians knew they were in for a tough day.
"I thought we were 15 or 20 runs short with the bat," Ponting said. "After we saw the first over Ashwin bowled and how much it spun, we said to ourselves than 250 or 260 looked like it would be a good total out there. As it turned out, we got that, but we probably could have got more. We couldn't get a partnership going, we'd lose a wicket at a really bad time; we probably were one or two wickets too many down to be able to accelerate when we wanted to at about the 35-over mark.
"They played well as a team today. You've just got to look through their batting card. [Gautam] Gambhir, [Sachin] Tendulkar, Yuvraj [Singh] all got fifties, and got them at a reasonable rate. Their bowling was steady. Zaheer [Khan] was good again today, especially right at the end of the innings in the Powerplay overs. I thought we played their spin pretty well today. It was a good combined effort by the Indian team and I think they're going to be pretty hard to beat as this tournament wears on."
India head to Mohali to take on Pakistan in a semi-final, a match that Ponting believes the hosts will win, while the Australians will fly home. They will spend some time with their families before returning to the subcontinent in early April for their three-match one-day series against Bangladesh.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge