| Ricky Ponting
Melbourne: Australia captain Ricky Ponting has dared Team India to sustain their newly acquired aggression on the tour Down Under later this summer.
Ponting — just back from the ill-tempered one-day series against Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men — said the Indians played aggressively, quite out of character for them, and it would be interesting to see if they could sustain it in Australia.
“They made it pretty clear right from the start that they were going to fight fire with fire but for us we know that’s generally not the way they play their cricket,” Ponting was quoted as saying in an Australian newspaper.
“We’ve got a lot of cricket against them in the next few months so it will be interesting to see just how long that aggression lasts,” he said.
After the home series against Pakistan, India arrive here for four Tests against the hosts, followed by a one-day tri-series also involving Sri Lanka.
Leg-spinner Stuart MacGill parroted Ponting’s line and warned India that pretending to be aggressive could backfire.
“If you believe in yourself and you’re convinced the way you’re playing is the right way then it doesn’t really matter how you carry yourself,” he said.
“It’s always a danger if you’re trying to become someone you’re not because you’ve got to concentrate on a whole lot of things out on the field, not just bowling. I try and keep it as simple as I can because bowling to (Sachin) Tendulkar is hard enough,” said the spinner.
He believes it’s easy to be aggressive on home turf with thousands of spectators throwing their weight behind the team but it’s a different proposition abroad.
“It’s always easier when you’ve got a lot of support at home to ride your emotions. They only need to look around and know they’ve got a billion countrymen supporting them. I think you’ll find it doesn’t work for them if you’re pretending.”
Ponting also had a word or two to say about Sreesanth’s run-ins with them.
“He generally does have a bit more aggression about him, a bit more body language than some of their other players do,” he said.
The Australian captain also said his side would have a clear edge over India in the forthcoming series.
“I think that’s always been their greatest challenge when they come to Australia, bowling us out twice,” he said. “They’ll bring a couple of spinners. Harbhajan (Singh) and (Murali) Kartik have been bowling really well and (Anil) Kumble will be in their Test squad.”
Glenn McGrath also had an opinion on Sreesanth, the former fast bowler saying that the Indian needed to back up his aggression with performance.
McGrath keenly followed the one-day series in India and said it was high time the youngster delivered the goods with the ball.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to be able to back it up. You can talk the talk but if you can’t go out there and perform then you’re not going to be around for very long,” McGrath was quoted as saying in another Australian newspaper.
He too doubts that Sreesanth’s on-field aggression was natural. “I’ve chatted with him a few times and it doesn’t seem to be in his character. He’s trying to be aggressive and it’s a little bit unusual.
McGrath warned the Indian team to expect hostility. “The Indians really don’t like the quicker or bouncier wickets so we’ll wait and see what happens. I’m sure they’ll come and try to be aggressive but I think no one does it better than the Australian team.”
Coach Tim Nielsen said the new-found aggression from the Indian team backfired on the hosts as it only spurred on the Australians to outclass the opposition on the field.
The Indians were trying to get under the Australians’ skin, but Nielsen felt the tactic actually helped Australia.
“The most pleasing thing was that we were able to cop it and keep performing whereas they weren’t able to do that and we won games because of it,” Nielsen said.
The coach said his team was prepared if the Indians carry on in the same vein during their tour. (PTI)