Pressure on India, says Ponting

Australian Skipper Ricky Ponting says there is more pressure on India to win Wednesday’s second cricket Test than on his team to equal the record of most consecutive Test victories.

Ponting on Tuesday had the luxury of naming an unchanged 12 for the second match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series after Australia’s massive 337-run victory over the Indians in Melbourne last weekend.

There was no likelihood of any changes after the home side took inside four days to dismantle the vaunted Indian batting line-up, dismissing them twice for sub-200-run innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Ponting’s team can now hold on to the trophy with a record-equalling 16th consecutive Test victory in the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) match.

Australia have been undefeated in Tests since beating South Africa by 184 runs at this ground two years ago.

The existing record was set under Ponting’s predecessor, Steve Waugh, from October 1999 to February 2001.

India will again want to be the team that halted Australia’s winning march, having ended that 1999 to 2001 sequence with their famous “Miracle of Calcutta” triumph.

That happened when VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) turned the match around with their epic 376-run fifth-wicket partnership in the second innings.

Ponting said that while India had enjoyed playing at the SCG in the past, including the drawn Test here four years ago in Steve Waugh’s farewell match, the pressure would be on India’s batsmen after their below-par scores in the Melbourne Test.

“I think the Indian batsmen have got some concerns just because of how well we bowled last game,” Ponting said.

Australia’s bowlers, headed by speedster Brett Lee, throttled the Indian scoring to 2,7 runs per over compared with the Australians’ 3,7.

Australia’s new-look attack, rated by team bowling coach Troy Cooley as the equal of the England foursome he mentored to Ashes success over Australia in 2005, all played their part.

Lee took six wickets in Melbourne, Stuart Clark five, Brad Hogg four, Mitchell Johnson three and Andrew Symonds one.

“The wicket looks particularly good. It has a little bit of grass on it,” Ponting said.

“It has just enough grass to be of some assistance [to the pace bowlers] early.”

In the corresponding Sydney Test four years ago, India amassed 705-7 in their first innings, with Sachin Tendulkar top-scoring with an unbeaten 241 and Laxman supporting him with 178 in a huge 353-run fourth-wicket stand.

But the Australians played out for a draw with Steve Waugh hitting 80 and Simon Katich an unbeaten 77.

Laxman will be looking for his third consecutive Test hundred at the SCG, after earlier posting a memorable 167 in the second innings of India’s heavy defeat in the 2000 Test.

Tendulkar also has a liking for the ground, having also scored 148 not out in the drawn 1992 Sydney Test in his first tour of Australia.—Sapa-AFP


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