Vodafone Test Series v India
Aussies 'nowhere near aggressive enough': Ponting
Test great feels hosts should have attacked India's lower order with more short balls during potentially costly rear-guard effort
17 January 2021, 08:50 PM AEST
Ricky Ponting has lamented Australia's lack of aggression with the ball on day three at the Gabba as India's tail wagged to frustrate a home side in need of a win to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Australia looked set to take a healthy first-innings lead when Josh Hazlewood removed Rishabh Pant in the 67th over with India on 6-186 and still 183 runs behind in the fourth Vodafone Test.
But that's when Test rookies Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur, with just three Test caps between them, added 123 for the seventh wicket to defy the Australians and change the course of the match.
Shardul posted 67 and Sundar 62 as the pair batted 36 overs against Australia's star-studded bowling attack that had a new ball at their disposal.
Watching on from the Channel 7 commentary box, Ponting was pleading for Australia's quicks to bang it in short and bowl with trademark hostility at the inexperienced pair.
Mitch Starc answered Ponting's call with a five-over burst of short-pitched bowling with the second new ball, which would have produced a wicket had gloveman Tim Paine held a one-handed catch above his head to remove Sundar, but by then it was too late as far as the former captain was concerned.
"I was a bit disappointed with the way the Australians went about it, to be honest," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"I don't think they were aggressive enough, didn't bowl enough short balls.
"They let the Indian batsmen be way too comfortable at the crease. They almost bowled the way those batsmen would have wanted them to bowl.
"It wasn't until we saw a bit of a barrage from Starc and even when Shardul got out (bowled by Pat Cummins), it was no surprise it was a ball after a bouncer.
"I don't think the Aussies were anywhere near aggressive enough."
Before the seventh-wicket stand, Australia's attack had done well to prise four top-order wickets on an uncharacteristically docile Gabba pitch.
Australia captured 4-124 before drinks in the second session by bowling tight lines and lengths but despite the success Ponting wanted to see the hosts let their intentions be known from the first over with a more aggressive approach.
"I thought they could have gone out and set the tone really early on with some really good, hostile fast bowling just to let India know what they were going to be about for the day," he said.
"It's been a bit of a struggle for them, the wicket's been flat, there hasn't been any sideways movement and certainly no swing.
"And with India we see that they just keep fighting. They've been up for the battle and the contest right the way through this series so far."
Off the back of the Sundar-Shardul stand, India scrapped their way to be all out for 336, just 33 runs behind and keep the Australians out in the field for 111.4 overs.
That long stint follows 110.4 and 131 overs in the field in the previous Test at the SCG, where India resisted Australia's formidable attack to bat out a draw and set up this series decider in Brisbane.
While Ponting has empathy for the grind the Australians have been through, he says backing up when fatigued is the true test of Test match cricket.
"There's no doubt they're a little bit tired and a little bit weary and you feel for them as far as that's concerned," Ponting said.
"But that's what Test cricket is.
"Even if you are tired and fatigued you've got to keep finding a way to turn up and give it your all and more importantly seizing moments and seizing opportunities in games."
While Ponting was critical of the hosts, he was full of praise for the visitors, particularly Sundar and Shardul and the discipline they displayed.
"The batsmanship has been a real standout and their application and concentration," Ponting said.
"They didn't throw it away.
"Shardul at the end went for a shot that probably wasn't quite on but before that there wasn't many false shots at all played by either of them.
"That's why I thought the Aussie quicks had to be more aggressive because the more aggressive you are to less-skilled tail-end batsmen the more likely you are to bring out a poor shot in them.
"But the partnership was outstanding, exactly what India needed at the time which is what they've been able to produce in a few Test matches.
"Especially after Adelaide, they've been able to produce what they've needed to in big moments from there on in."
Vodafone Test Series v India 2020-21
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
India Test squad: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan
First Test: Australia won by eight wickets
Second Test: India won by eight wickets
Third Test: Match drawn
Fourth Test: January 15-19, Gabba, 11am AEDT