Ricky Ponting compares 'special' win to World Cup
Ricky Ponting has said that his inexperienced and under-strength side's victory in India was among the best one-day successes he has been part of, including the Champions Trophy and the World Cup wins. Australia clinched the seven-match series after winning the sixth ODI in Guwahati by six wickets, a result that gave them a 4-2 lead with one game in hand.
"It's probably one of the best one-day series I have ever been involved in, what with all the injuries and setbacks at the start of this tour," Ponting said. "We have won a lot of series here in India but this one will be up there with some of the specials that I played in, including our Champions Trophy and World Cup wins. For the boys to stick together as a group and play as team of 11 players for the last few games has been very satisfying.
"India is a hard place to come and win and this victory means a lot, especially when you haven't got all your players to pick from. It makes it even harder when players are getting off planes and turning up and playing. No one's shirking and no one's whining, we have just got on with it and tried to do the best that we could."
Australia's campaign in India was ravaged by injury even before it started with four first-choice players - Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Callum Ferguson - unavailable for selection. Their troubles grew more severe during the tour as Brett Lee, James Hopes, Tim Paine, Peter Siddle and Moises Henriques also picked up injuries and had to be flown home. Before the fifth ODI in Hyderabad, Australia had only 13 fit players to choose a XI from and Ponting said the way they responded to adversity was heartening for the future.
"With each game that we have played, we have just gotten better and better so it's really good signs for the team," he said. "Some of the younger guys have come into the team and have got a few games under their belt. They have been building experience towards the World Cup in 2011 and I think they will have learnt a lot from this tour."
The victory in Guwahati was Australia's third consecutive win in the series, following successes in Mohali and Hyderabad. Fast bowler Doug Bollinger, who took his second five-for in ODIs, and Mitchell Johnson reduced India to 27 for 5, effectively ending the contest in the first hour. "The bowlers obviously led the way today, Johnson and Bollinger were outstanding upfront. The way they started after second ball of the day went for six was really remarkable," Ponting said. "He [Bollinger] bowled brilliantly, starting from his first game back in Delhi. To get five wickets on a pitch which did not offer much to the fast bowlers is a terrific reward. Once we got those four or five wickets we were always in control of the game."
Ponting also praised Australia's fielding, which he felt made the difference during the close finishes in Vadodara and Hyderabad. "We talk about it a lot around our team and pride ourselves on the way we field. Quite often in close games it's the fielding which is the difference between the teams. We've had a four-run win [in Vadodara] and a three-run win [in Hyderabad] in this series and some of the great fielding that we have had in this series has gone a long way in helping us win."