Difficult for teams to bat second - Ponting

Ricky Ponting feels the change of ball in the 28th over of India's run-chase could have worked to the opposition's advantage

Ricky Ponting made a winning return in his 150th ODI as captain after missing the earlier matches due to a hamstring strain © AFP
During the Indian run-chase, the umpires changed the ball in the 28th over because it was discoloured and, adhering to the new playing conditions, changed the ball once again in the 35th over, something which Ricky Ponting said could have worked to India's advantage.
"The change of ball is fine," Ponting said. "But in this match, there was a moment that needs to looked at. India got the ball changed in the 27th over instead of 35th so they got eight more overs with the new ball. It is a massive advantage in such conditions. Something like that could end up impacting the game in a big way. When they changed the ball eight overs earlier, they should have been given the next ball eight overs later."
As it turned out, India scored 51 for 1 between the 20th and the 27th over after which the ball was changed for the first time; 41 runs between the first and second ball change; and lost three wickets for 15 runs between the 35th and the 40th over as the asking-rate climbed rapidly.
The point Ponting was trying to make was that in conditions where the ball was not coming on to the bat, changing the existing ball to a harder one could benefit the batting side. Andrew Symonds had said that the pitch was slow and the ball was stopping on the batsmen during the early stages of his 89 and Ponting added that batting second and chasing large totals on Indian pitches was hard work.
"Unless we are going to get some grass in the next couple of games, we'll be batting first if I win the toss," Ponting said. "In India, we generally found that the wickets lose what ever little it shows initially and loses its bounce. We had the chance to bat first in the two games and it is going to be difficult for any team to bat second on such wickets."
Australia were sitting pretty on a 2-0 lead with four games to play. Another win would ensure at least a tied series but Ponting ruled out complacency setting in.
"We started the series the way we wanted to. It is pretty important that we do not sit back and rest on that but we look in to the future of the series," Ponting said. "The lead that we have taken will be pretty handy for us to prove ourselves in the remaining matches. I am happy at the way we have come so far and we have to take it from here."
Meanwhile, even though the match was hardly as hot-tempered as the previous one at Kochi, there was still enough said for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to complain about. "We discussed with the referee about not using harsh words, but Ponting did, and a couple of their players did," Dhoni said after the game. He didn't reveal what exactly was said by the players, though.
However, Philip Pope, the Australian team's media manager, and Andrew Symonds played had no problems with the way the match was played. "All players shook hands at the end of the game," said Pope, "and there doesn't seem to have been any of the difficulties the media had perceived in Kochi."
"It was a much more sportsman-like, friendly game today," Symonds said. "Both teams obviously realised things got a bit out of hand the other day. Both chose to play completely within the rules of the ICC."

George Binoy is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo