India vs Australia: Ricky Ponting praises Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy, calls debutant Mohammed Siraj ‘very much a Test match bowler’


Melbourne: Aussie great Ricky Ponting on Saturday (December 26, 2020) praised Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy following the Indian team’s performance on day 1 of the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. 

Ponting who is considered one of the most successful captains in the international cricket history said that Rahane employed a leg slip for his seam and spin bowlers to dismiss Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Tim Paine.

“Rahane’s captaincy has been brilliant so far. Rahane’s field placements, bowling changes have all been pretty much spot on. With captaincy, making bowling changes and changing the field, you need guys to be able to execute well,” Australia’s most capped international skipper told cricket.com.au.

He added, “Some of the wickets they got today, even Smith at leg slip early on, I think that was a set plan. Joe Burns’ dismissal would have been exactly how they wanted it. Cam Green was set up today as well – Siraj bowled some really good outswingers to him then bowled an inswinger back down the line that trapped him in front. I think there’s been a lot of planning that’s gone into it and Rahane should take a lot of credit for that.”

Ponting also talked about the Indian Premier League played in the United Arab Emirates where he coached the Delhi Capitals and said, “We had him at Delhi this year. He’s a very smart cricketer, he’s a terrific bloke, works exceptionally hard on his own game but it just seems today the Indian boys have got right in behind him and they’re working for each other which is always good to see.”

Notably, Rahane is filling in for full-time skipper Virat Kohli who is with wife Anushka Sharma for the birth of their first child.  

Debutant Mohammad Siraj also received high praise from Ponting. “He has looked very much a Test match bowler,” said Ponting.

“I’ve liked his aggression, he’s been willing to use his short ball. But the thing I liked in the lead-up to Green’s wicket and even Paine came to the crease at the 55-60 over the mark, the ball started swinging and he’s a noted new-ball bowler,” Ponting expressed.
 

Ponting said that Siraj is someone who has done really well in domestic cricket in India with the brand new ball.

“I thought he might have his challenges here once the ball got a bit older but he’s bowled really well. His discipline has been good, his length has been really good,” said Ponting and added, “In fact, looking at him today, he has actually looked a better bowler than Umesh Yadav as far as I’m concerned.”

The Indian team has lost opener Mayank Agarwal (0) to Mitchell Starc following which debutant Shubman Gill (28*) along with Cheteshwar Pujara (7*) took India to 36 for 1 in 11 overs at stumps on day 1. 

Earlier, Australian skipper Tim Paine opted to bat first but his team was haunted by Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah who restricted the Kangaroos to 195-10 in 72.3 overs.

India trail Australia by 159 runs.

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Sagar Biswas

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