ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Ponting backs batting reshuffle in India loss
Assistant coach Ricky Ponting addresses Australia's mis-firing batting order following their World Cup defeat to India
Louis Cameron at The Oval, London
11 June 2019, 01:43 PM AEST
Ricky Ponting has defended Australia's misfiring top-order after their defeat to India, labelling the Aaron Finch-David Warner opening partnership among the best at the World Cup.
But Ponting also said their batting line-up must continue to be flexible, backing the decision to swap Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja in the order and suggesting Glenn Maxwell could bat further up in certain situations.
The reigning champions' batting line-up failed at their first major challenge of the tournament at The Oval on Sunday, finishing 36 runs short of India' 5-352 having fallen well behind the required run rate from early in the chase.
No team in World Cup history had ever reeled in that big a total, but there's an expectation that this year's winner will be capable of consistently setting and chasing scores that were once unimaginable in 50-over cricket.
Australia's top-order also stumbled against West Indies, before a rescue act from Smith and the lower-order ensured they posted a competitive total nearing 300.
India, one of the tournament favourites, had earlier laid out the blueprint as Shikhar Dhawan posted a brisk century before Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni all found the fence with ease in the closing overs.
Ponting suggested the inability of Australia's openers to find the fence early in the run chase, combined with the untimely run out of Finch for 26, were decisive factors.
"Our batting was just a little bit off again," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "We seemed to find the field a lot in the first 10 overs.
"The run out happened at a really crucial time (the 14th over). The momentum had just started to turn there, Finchy had started to find the boundary a bit more frequently.
"We just needed someone at the top to go on and make a big hundred like Dhawan did and we would have been right in the game."
After he battled through a lack of rhythm to post a match-winning 89 against Afghanistan in Australia's first game, Warner was again short of his destructive best, according to Ponting.
The 32-year-old's 77-ball half-century was the slowest of his ODI career and when he was caught on the boundary in the 25th over, the asking rate was nudging nine runs per over.
But Ponting believes the Warner-Finch duo is capable of matching it with the very best.
"Finch and Warner are probably as good as openers in the world," said Ponting. "Finchy has turned things around really well in the last five or six months, Davey coming back has made runs.
"By his own admission today, (Warner) probably wasn’t at his absolute best. He hit the field too often early on and wasn't able to rotate as he would have liked.
"It was always going to be a hard task. From about the 20-over mark on, something pretty spectacular was going to need to happen from not just one, but probably two of our batters.
"There's certainly enough skill and enough talent to turn it around pretty quickly."
Smith was promoted ahead of Khawaja in the batting order in a bid to combat India's wrist-spinning duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, posting 69 off 70 balls before falling lbw to paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
His promotion meant Khawaja was shunted down to the unfamiliar spot of No.4 and Ponting suggested the batting order will likely remain flexible throughout the tournament.
Which could see the dangerous Maxwell elevated even higher than No.5 if they have wickets in hand.
"We wanted to have (favourable) left-hand, right-hand (match-ups) with those spinners and we thought Steven plays spin as well as anybody, so that was the only reason," Ponting said of the decision to swap Smith and Khawaja.
"It happens quite a lot in the modern game where you see that right-hand, left-hand combination, especially if they've got a lot of spin.
"If it's past 35 overs, you're probably not going to do it (bat Khawaja at four), Maxwell is going every day of the week after that.
"In the right time and right moment, I think it can work really well."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
Sync Australia's World Cup schedule to your calendar HERE
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE