India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore October 8, 2010

Ponting searches for elusive Indian success

In what could possibly be his last Test in India, the Australia captain has a chance to set things right in his team's most successful venue in the country
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When India went to New Zealand last year, John Wright made a trip to the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, half an hour's drive from Christchurch, where the Indian team was training. He had short chats with some of his old wards. A visibly emotional Wright then said he missed India. "Once India gets under your skin, it's hard to get it out."

Of course Wright had a different sort of relationship with India, but Ricky Ponting wouldn't be too far off the mark if he feels the same on the eve of what could be his last Test in the country he has "never mastered". Except India hasn't quite got under Ponting's skin in the positive way: he averages 22.30 here, has scored just one century in 13 Tests, and hasn't won a Test here as captain.

"I feel like I have been coming to India all my cricketing life and in truth I have," he wrote in his column in the Australian. Having travelled here six times just for Tests since 1996, he actually has. Twelve years ago, on his second tour to India, he had to be shown out of a Kolkata night club against his will. He was the Tasmanian George Best in those years, as Malcolm Knox wrote of him.

Over his Test trips to India, we have seen Ponting grow as a cricketer, as a leader, and as a human being. He has grown immensely in stature as a batsman, perhaps second only to Don Bradman in Australia. He might not be the best tactician going around, but as a leader he has not shied away from responsibility. He has taken over a team that doesn't win nearly as often as what seemed like Ponting's birth right until 2006-07. He is risking becoming the first captain to lose the Ashes thrice. But he is there for the team that needs him and looks up to him.

The task that Ponting faces now is immense. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is already gone, and the way it went doesn't make it easy for a team to bounce back. It will take plenty of character to achieve that

India remains one of those unsuccessful battles. Ponting has toured India with a great team that fell at the last hurdle, and with a team that conquered the Final Frontier without him. He has had Harbhajan Singh torture him for entire tours. Equally, he has had a random man at a sponsor function try to kiss him. He has started his two previous tours looking like he would finally "master" the place, but the box remains unticked.

Like with captaincy of late, Ponting retains the enthusiasm for India. "I have always enjoyed playing cricket here, although I haven't had the success here that I have had in other countries," he said. "It's always been a great place to play Test cricket as far as I am concerned. The Australian team has always enjoyed every contest we have had here, and we always enjoy our team around the country outside of the cricket venues."

As far as hurt goes, Ponting rates the defeat in Mohali last week more painful than what happened in Kolkata in 2000-01. Perhaps more so than what happened in Kolkata in 1998. Soon after that Kolkata mishap, Ponting came to Bangalore, and was part of a winning team. This year, with a team he wants to shape as his legacy, Ponting returns to Bangalore, hoping for a similar result to ease the pain of a devastating defeat. Bangalore, in fact, has been Australia's most favoured venue in India: they are yet to lose a Test here. Ponting's only century in India has come here. An oasis in the middle of the desert that India has been for Ponting.

The task that Ponting faces now is immense. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is already gone, and the way it went doesn't make it easy for a team to bounce back. It will take plenty of character to achieve that. "This just goes to show unless you are ready to play cricket very, very well for five days sometimes you don't achieve the result you are after," Ponting said. It might take four very, very good days of good cricket to get back to a similar position.

It will apply to the captain too. A pretty 71 might not be good enough, he will know. At least he is not putting pressure on himself thinking this could be his last Test here. "I haven't thought about that if this is going to be my last Test or not," he said. "Hopefully this is not my last tour, as it turns out we are in India almost every year. I still believe I have got a few more years of international cricket ahead of me and hopefully that means I will be back to India for another Test tour."

That said, there are no guarantees either. At least for now, Australia are not playing Tests here next year. If he doesn't come back, though, it will be a shame if India doesn't get to see one of the best batsmen of this era at his best.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | October 9, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    Ricky Ponting won the Mohali Test - it was there for the WHOLE WORLD TO SEE - except Billy Bowden, who did not give Pragyan Ojha out, when he was clearly lbw. Billy Bowden made a crucial mistake at Edgbaston too in The Ashes 2005, when he declared Kasperowicz out caught behind, whereas replays showed he was not out. So the Kiwi Billy Bowden is responsible for two of Australian losses - doesn't that add a "flavour" to the Trans - Tasman rivaly?

  • POSTED BY Earthy on | October 9, 2010, 4:03 GMT

    I love this article. Its true Ponting never succeeded but he is too good a player to face all these wraths. :) I believe he is the best competitor that world had produced. He may not have his arsenal right but he knows the weak doors of opponents. I would love to see him play. Actualy he bats with the ease of laxman and Skill of Lara. Its pleasure ..complete Pleasure.. but that does not deny that i Love India so i want India to win, matches against him. :)

  • POSTED BY Yorker_ToeCrusher on | October 9, 2010, 3:44 GMT

    Over the years Ponting has grown as a human being and he seems to respect the game more now.Always enjoyed his batting except against India.Ponting makes immense contribution towards the india-aus rivalry as many people here seems to have been disliking him(Warne and Lee are the most popular).Will be gong to Bangalore Test on sunday and if he scores a 100,i will be the first man to give him a standing ovation.Thanks

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2010, 3:18 GMT

    Ponting has grown on me. I didn't like him initially since he seemed so brash but I really respect him for persevering and coming to India again and again.When he talks he seems so mature and balanced now. Also he didn't complain one bit after the loss.Just took it on the chin and said the team had to improve. He has won a lot but now is helping build a new Australian team and just shows up and battles hard day in and day out. He is one of the all time greats and has also got a test century in India. He has 3 World Cup wins of which two came as Captain!!So nothing really for him to prove so when he goes out to bat in Bangalore it is not judgment time for him. I hope he gets ducks in both innings but if he scores a hundred I will stand up and applaud.

  • POSTED BY eminem on | October 9, 2010, 3:14 GMT

    I agree with the author as. Ponting to me is one of the best batsman in world cricket for over a decade. But more than that I think he is one of the best leaders of the game. His grit and determination is what made his cricket career soar as a player - A truly mentally strong character because of his hard upbringing.A kind of person who stares death in the face and pushes it back to where it came from. Amazing leadership quality.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2010, 1:54 GMT

    Ponting will have just have to be content that he'll never win a series in India! enough said..

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2010, 1:44 GMT

    @ross: its simple dude that here no one is talking about NZ or Bdesh... its an article on "India vs Australia" ongoing test series.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2010, 1:14 GMT

    Ponting is not alone. We mastered Lara and other great players of our times too. Murali and Warne - the two best bowlers of all time were made to look like puppies when bowling in India. How about Steve Waugh's infamous handling the ball? When you come here expecting to carry on your success from elsewhere you are in for loads of surprise.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 23:00 GMT

    I am preety sure that Ponting will score a big score against India in bangalore.And yes he is d best captain Australia have ever produced.Nd i wish him all d best for his next match against India.

  • POSTED BY bustermove on | October 8, 2010, 22:53 GMT

    To the writer and all who have so far responded to this piece, thankyou. It is so nice to read something about Ponting written by an Indian and some responses from Indian readers that don't tear Ponting to shreds, although as I write there have been only 20 responses. The day is yet young. There is even some grudging respect, although not a lot of outright praise. No-one has even mentioned the Sydney test yet. Ooops, that'll get the ball rolling for sure. I know that Ponting has not always reserved his best behaviour for Indian watchers but the fact is, he is probably the most combative personality to have played cricket for Australia in the last 30 years, and India have been his undoing. They seem to reserve their best and worst for him and the pressure under which he operates (from the Indian players, fans and media) is immense. Zaheer's little effort the other day summed the situation up nicely. Nice innings from Ponting. All of a sudden he's waving his bat around like a madman.

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | October 9, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    Ricky Ponting won the Mohali Test - it was there for the WHOLE WORLD TO SEE - except Billy Bowden, who did not give Pragyan Ojha out, when he was clearly lbw. Billy Bowden made a crucial mistake at Edgbaston too in The Ashes 2005, when he declared Kasperowicz out caught behind, whereas replays showed he was not out. So the Kiwi Billy Bowden is responsible for two of Australian losses - doesn't that add a "flavour" to the Trans - Tasman rivaly?

  • POSTED BY Earthy on | October 9, 2010, 4:03 GMT

    I love this article. Its true Ponting never succeeded but he is too good a player to face all these wraths. :) I believe he is the best competitor that world had produced. He may not have his arsenal right but he knows the weak doors of opponents. I would love to see him play. Actualy he bats with the ease of laxman and Skill of Lara. Its pleasure ..complete Pleasure.. but that does not deny that i Love India so i want India to win, matches against him. :)

  • POSTED BY Yorker_ToeCrusher on | October 9, 2010, 3:44 GMT

    Over the years Ponting has grown as a human being and he seems to respect the game more now.Always enjoyed his batting except against India.Ponting makes immense contribution towards the india-aus rivalry as many people here seems to have been disliking him(Warne and Lee are the most popular).Will be gong to Bangalore Test on sunday and if he scores a 100,i will be the first man to give him a standing ovation.Thanks

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2010, 3:18 GMT

    Ponting has grown on me. I didn't like him initially since he seemed so brash but I really respect him for persevering and coming to India again and again.When he talks he seems so mature and balanced now. Also he didn't complain one bit after the loss.Just took it on the chin and said the team had to improve. He has won a lot but now is helping build a new Australian team and just shows up and battles hard day in and day out. He is one of the all time greats and has also got a test century in India. He has 3 World Cup wins of which two came as Captain!!So nothing really for him to prove so when he goes out to bat in Bangalore it is not judgment time for him. I hope he gets ducks in both innings but if he scores a hundred I will stand up and applaud.

  • POSTED BY eminem on | October 9, 2010, 3:14 GMT

    I agree with the author as. Ponting to me is one of the best batsman in world cricket for over a decade. But more than that I think he is one of the best leaders of the game. His grit and determination is what made his cricket career soar as a player - A truly mentally strong character because of his hard upbringing.A kind of person who stares death in the face and pushes it back to where it came from. Amazing leadership quality.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2010, 1:54 GMT

    Ponting will have just have to be content that he'll never win a series in India! enough said..

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2010, 1:44 GMT

    @ross: its simple dude that here no one is talking about NZ or Bdesh... its an article on "India vs Australia" ongoing test series.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2010, 1:14 GMT

    Ponting is not alone. We mastered Lara and other great players of our times too. Murali and Warne - the two best bowlers of all time were made to look like puppies when bowling in India. How about Steve Waugh's infamous handling the ball? When you come here expecting to carry on your success from elsewhere you are in for loads of surprise.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 23:00 GMT

    I am preety sure that Ponting will score a big score against India in bangalore.And yes he is d best captain Australia have ever produced.Nd i wish him all d best for his next match against India.

  • POSTED BY bustermove on | October 8, 2010, 22:53 GMT

    To the writer and all who have so far responded to this piece, thankyou. It is so nice to read something about Ponting written by an Indian and some responses from Indian readers that don't tear Ponting to shreds, although as I write there have been only 20 responses. The day is yet young. There is even some grudging respect, although not a lot of outright praise. No-one has even mentioned the Sydney test yet. Ooops, that'll get the ball rolling for sure. I know that Ponting has not always reserved his best behaviour for Indian watchers but the fact is, he is probably the most combative personality to have played cricket for Australia in the last 30 years, and India have been his undoing. They seem to reserve their best and worst for him and the pressure under which he operates (from the Indian players, fans and media) is immense. Zaheer's little effort the other day summed the situation up nicely. Nice innings from Ponting. All of a sudden he's waving his bat around like a madman.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 21:44 GMT

    @Ross Vaughan Why do you want us to discuss a Bangladeshi Lad or SA when the series involves India-Australia ? Thats funny and foolish on your part. Anyways when someone id good, just learn to appreciate.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 20:08 GMT

    To all of you that say that it would be a shame not to see him at his best, its a shame you think like that. I AM Indian, and in no way biased, and will be supporting India and of course its brilliant to stop him scoring runs against us, but it would be a shame not to see such a great player score at least some runs against this attack. Look, he's second only to Tendulkar in terms of runs, and it'd be good to see the guy get some runs. For the game, he should score some runs.

  • POSTED BY MasterClass on | October 8, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    If he makes a century we'll applaud him, but before that we'll hope he's removed for a golden duck.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 19:28 GMT

    It is great to see, no one is doin those stupid comparisons between ponting and tendulkar.. and its not shame but honor for India that we haven't let the best aussie batsman of this era to have that much success against us in test matches in India. Ricky might not be the most likeable cricketer personality wise, but as a cricket lover, i rate him amongst the best batsmen of all time and was actually surprised by his exclusion from the all time test -XI shortlist. hope he gets a duck in the next match too ;).

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 19:23 GMT

    @Ross, the reason other achievements are not talked abt are, well u have to admit, NZ is not a big shot team, and Bangladesh has a knack of upsetting bigger teams than NZ (like India, Australia).. so this win doesnt become a big news. What is SA doing, they won a match against Zimbabwe,, is there a surprise there?? Moreover, Border-Gavaskar trophy has established it name in last 10 years, for many Indians, its bigger than ashes, probably most important test series that India plays. and sorry to disappoint u, but max cricinfo readers are Indians, so there is bound to be more discussion on this series than any other. I bet you won't be complaining when ashes takes all the limelight when India tours SA later this year. B-G trophy is big, period. Although India is no.1 ranked, but we fans know it still takes the best to beat the Aussies, and our climb to the ladder has been partly becoz we have had the best record against them in the last decade. and this new rivalry is goin to stay.

  • POSTED BY cricpkr on | October 8, 2010, 19:19 GMT

    There is no shame in denying him being his best against India in India, in fact we would be very very proud in denying him that success in India. We would be even prouder if Indian team doesn't allow him to score every time against India anywhere in the world. I don't know what the author is trying to connote by saying it is a shame to deny Ponting a good score, are you trying to suggest that the Indian team should bowl badly so that Ponting can score well in India?

  • POSTED BY RajaSaab on | October 8, 2010, 19:15 GMT

    Punter is and will remain the best batsman Aus has produced after Sir Don..Its a shame that he has to watch the empire crumble all around him while he manfully carries the 'hobblers' on his shoulders and single handedly will them to success (which is less frequent these days)! Wish him all the success in Bangalore. I absolutely want India to win but wont mind if the cricket loving people of India get to see a legend of the game give one parting gift to India!!

    having said that....Go INDIA!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY kalyanbk on | October 8, 2010, 17:43 GMT

    That's ok, Lara also did not have much success in India. Bradman wisely never toured India.India can make kings out of commoners and commoners out of kings.

  • POSTED BY manasvi_lingam on | October 8, 2010, 17:28 GMT

    An excellent batsman but a not-so-good captain. However, Ponting is maturing as a captain though some of his batting has declined a bit.

  • POSTED BY sunchin on | October 8, 2010, 16:49 GMT

    In all fairness, Ponting was really sporting to allow a runner when Laxman came in. He may have been a bit of a loose cannon early on in his career but he has grown in stature along the years especially after assuming the mantle of captaincy. He is the second most prolific test batsman of all time and the only person capable of breaking Sachin's test records, but you would never guess that, the way the media and the fans treat him in spite of his added responsibilities. We are richer from the experiences of the many Ind/Aus series in the last decade or so and I am thankful to Ponting and his team for providing much of the entertainment.

  • POSTED BY LUISITO on | October 8, 2010, 15:59 GMT

    good luck ricky..try to win ur last test in india. well,he is only 35..so, it wont be his last test. anyways..good luck.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    he is a good batsman.... his sucess has lead to aussies victories. i like him as a player rather than personality.

  • POSTED BY anandpaiv on | October 8, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    Its not shame, we should be proud that we had denied him his best...

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 14:30 GMT

    It won't be a shame.. It'll be a achievement that India is able to stop a run-muchine.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    We will live without seeing his best. Thank you.

  • POSTED BY ILuvTests on | October 8, 2010, 14:10 GMT

    I can only restate an old Neville Cardus prayer with a small change. May Ponting make a 100 not out out of an Aussie score of 150 all out.

  • POSTED BY vish2020 on | October 8, 2010, 14:07 GMT

    There is no shame but nothing but proud feeling to deny success to Ricky Ponting in India! We are known as the "final frontier" in Australia and we would like to remain that way! It's not a easy place to play just like Australia and I am 100 percent sure no aussies are rooting for VVS or Sachin to score many runs so they can have the pleasure to watch them. At the end of the day, its about winning and India likes the way it has happened in past and we would like it to continue in the future.

  • POSTED BY avis1001 on | October 8, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    Hope India will not allow Punter's Dreams come true in Bangalore.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    This is getting boring with every article singing India's praise. There are other teams in world cricket too that are doing well. What about that Bangladesh lad who single handedly defeated NZ? why no mention of him? what about SA?

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 13:42 GMT

    there is no shame in denying one of the best batsmen of the era a success in India. 'cos if he does score a good century or two in the next test, we are not going to win it :)

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  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 13:42 GMT

    there is no shame in denying one of the best batsmen of the era a success in India. 'cos if he does score a good century or two in the next test, we are not going to win it :)

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    This is getting boring with every article singing India's praise. There are other teams in world cricket too that are doing well. What about that Bangladesh lad who single handedly defeated NZ? why no mention of him? what about SA?

  • POSTED BY avis1001 on | October 8, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    Hope India will not allow Punter's Dreams come true in Bangalore.

  • POSTED BY vish2020 on | October 8, 2010, 14:07 GMT

    There is no shame but nothing but proud feeling to deny success to Ricky Ponting in India! We are known as the "final frontier" in Australia and we would like to remain that way! It's not a easy place to play just like Australia and I am 100 percent sure no aussies are rooting for VVS or Sachin to score many runs so they can have the pleasure to watch them. At the end of the day, its about winning and India likes the way it has happened in past and we would like it to continue in the future.

  • POSTED BY ILuvTests on | October 8, 2010, 14:10 GMT

    I can only restate an old Neville Cardus prayer with a small change. May Ponting make a 100 not out out of an Aussie score of 150 all out.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    We will live without seeing his best. Thank you.

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 14:30 GMT

    It won't be a shame.. It'll be a achievement that India is able to stop a run-muchine.

  • POSTED BY anandpaiv on | October 8, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    Its not shame, we should be proud that we had denied him his best...

  • POSTED BY on | October 8, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    he is a good batsman.... his sucess has lead to aussies victories. i like him as a player rather than personality.

  • POSTED BY LUISITO on | October 8, 2010, 15:59 GMT

    good luck ricky..try to win ur last test in india. well,he is only 35..so, it wont be his last test. anyways..good luck.