DateLine: 8th November 2012
Continued from Part I
ODIs against India
First confrontation with none other then “Bhajji”
Ponting wrote, "The Sharjah incident was the result of me being over-competitive but it had the potential to get quite nasty. I was really disappointed with the shot I played [to get dismissed] and when I looked up Harbahjan was right in my face giving me the finger [gesturing for Ponting to leave the ground with his index finger] and really mouthing off. Had he been a few more metres away from me I would have not reacted like I did or at the most I would have given him a bit of lip as I walked past. I just over-reacted to the provocation".
Both players were consequently fined $500 and reprimanded by the match referee. Harbhajan was held responsible for starting the fight and was also suspended for one ODI for breaching the ICC Cricket Code of Conduct.
Fearsome once again after first World Cup success
In the last match of the Super Six stage, Australia faced South Africa and needed a win to qualify for the semis. After batting first South Africa scored 271 runs and Australia slumped to 48/3 when Steve Waugh joined Ponting in the middle but scored 22 runs in ten overs. Both seemingly had conversations in the middle perhaps about increasing the scoring rate. The great Jacques Kallis was unable to bowl because of a strained abdominal muscle and this gave the Aussie pair a chance to attack the replacement bowlers to hit 82 from 10 overs. The 126-run stand ended when Ponting fell after a brilliant 69 off 110 balls, including five fours and two sixes. Skipper Waugh took the front seat to hit 120 off 110 deliveries helping Australia to win with two balls to spare.
The two sides met again in their next match, with both needing a win to qualify for the final. Australia only managed 213, Ponting's contribution was a solid 37 from 48 balls. In reply, South Africa started strongly, scoring 45 off the first nine overs with all the wickets in hand. However, legendary Australian spinner Shane Warne suddenly showed his magic by dismissing Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten before going on to pick up 4/29 from 10 overs.
This match is mostly remembered for its dramatic 'end scene' with the Proteas needing eight runs with one wicket in hand. Lower-order hitter, Lance Klusener who had been out there some time tried to score those runs in the next two balls. Hysterical drama followed, as Donald was run-out two balls later, resulting in a tie. Australia qualified for the final while the South Africa's were labelled as 'chokers'.
Australia played the final against Pakistan and won comfortably. Ponting made 24 and ended the tournament with respectable stats of 354 runs at 39.33.
Dream come true, Ricky Ponting the next Australian skipper
Nevertheless, it was still a far cry from Australia's last two Test campaigns in Sri Lanka, which had resulted in a 1–0 win and a 0–1 loss respectively. Individually though, Ponting's own form suffered in comparison to his efforts in 1999. He scored 198 runs at 33.00, his only innings beyond 30 being a 92 in the first innings of the Third Test in Colombo.
Champions Trophy failure
Loss in Ashes led to criticism in early captaincy career
The 2005 Ashes was hailed as one of the great Test series, but because he was the skipper, Ponting faced the flak afterwards. The media quizzed the selectors and Ponting if he was the right man for the job? In his defence, Ponting said that Australia had simply been outplayed and had not stepped up at crucial moments in the matches. He did not relinquish his captaincy in favour of Shane Warne although this suggestion had been made by media.
Ponting becomes the first Australian skipper to win the Champions Trophy
Australia lose a high-scorer during the 2006 Series in South Africa
Honour regained in 2006/07 Ashes
Ponting often called 'Punter', led Australia to became the second team (after the great Warwick Armstrong's Australian team in 1920-21) to win an Ashes series 5-0 and whitewash England. After this win they became the second strongest cricketing team in the world. Ricky Ponting because of his match-winning performances was awarded Man of the Series for the 2006-07 Ashes after scoring 576 runs at a mammoth average of 82.29 including 2 centuries and 2 half centuries.
Ponting leads Australia to second consecutive World Cup win in 2006/07 and reaches a milestone
After a brilliant performances in the rest of the tournament, Ponting guided Australia in the semi-final against South Africa which they won comfortably 7 wickets. The final against Sri Lanka was affected by rain and reduced to 38 overs a side, Ponting decided to bat first. Australia posted 281, with Adam Gilchrist scoring 149 runs followed by Matthew Hayden's 38 and Ponting's 37. Sri Lanka managed to make 215 runs and had two overs left when rain started falling and the match after use of the D/L method resulted in a 53-run win for Australia. Ponting's total stats in the tournament were impressive (539-runs at an average of 67.37 - with 1 century and 4 half centuries).
Gunman runs out of guns
As of 18 July 2012 Ponting had 165 Test matches to his name and during the Sri Lanka series in 2013, we may well see him creating history once again by becoming the most capped Australian player. Former Australia skipper Steve Waugh, made 168 Test appearances.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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