Ricky Ponting: "I made Brett aware he wasn't going to bowl first-thing in the morning. I let him know we were wanting to take pace off the ball." © AFP
Ricky Ponting has said there is no problem with his relationship with Brett Lee and he expects the struggling strike bowler to be part of the side for the third Test in Delhi next week. Lee and Ponting had a heated exchange on the fourth morning when Lee was not used throughout the opening session.
"It seems like there are people trying to make a bit more of that than what it actually was," Ponting said after the 320-run loss. "I made Brett aware he wasn't going to bowl first-thing in the morning. I let him know we were wanting to take pace off the ball."
Lee started to get agitated when Michael Hussey was brought on before lunch, a move Ponting put down to the team's problems with the over-rate. The bowler and the captain had a short, animated discussion and later when Ponting attempted to talk to Lee he walked away.
"Where it fell down a bit is I didn't communicate those reasons to Brett at 11am when he wanted to bowl," Ponting said. "I made it clear to him from that moment on of those reasons."
Australia's bowlers have not looked like dismissing India twice in the opening two Tests and Lee has had a tough time in his first five-day assignments in the country. He has taken only four wickets in 75 overs at an average of 59.25, and his performances have been highlighted because he is leading such an inexperienced attack.
Lee's only wicket of the second innings in Mohali came when Ponting let him start the middle session on Monday following their earlier arguments. "When the over-rate came back down to something that was a bit more acceptable he bowled after lunch and did a reasonable job," Ponting said.
When asked if Lee could be dropped for next week's third Test in Delhi Ponting said: "I wouldn't have thought so. He's a champion player.
"There's not a lot wrong, just a few areas he can sharpen up. When you're off by 5% in these conditions, particularly as fast bowlers, things can be highlighted quickly. For Brett, it's more of a mind-set thing, technically everything is in order."
Lee and Matthew Hayden, who has scored 42 runs in four innings, were part of a group of senior men who have under-performed in Bangalore and Mohali. "There are a number of players that haven't achieved what they set out to achieve," Ponting said. "Take my first innings out in the first Test, and I'm probably in exactly the same boat.
"Talking about Brett, and I saw Hayden's name being mentioned in the past couple of days, those sort of guys are champion players. One averages 55 in Test cricket, the other has taken almost 300 wickets. One thing I know about champion players is never write them off."