Cricket World Cup 2011

Ponting shrugs off slow night

2011-03-14 06:35
Collins Obuya made light work of the Australian spinners. (AFP)

Bangalore - Australia captain Ricky Ponting insisted he was unconcerned by his wicketless spinners, after the defending champions toiled to beat Kenya and reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Australia won by 60 runs, but Kenya batted out their full 50 overs in a painstaking encounter to reach 264 for six in reply to 324 for six.

It was the Africans' highest total of the tournament, comfortably surpassing the 198 they made in their five-wicket defeat to Canada.

While Kenya's spinners took three wickets, Australia's trio of leg-spinner Steven Smith, off-break bowler Jason Krejza and left-armer Michael Clarke couldn't manage one between them on a Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch taking turn.

Their combined 19 overs cost 93 runs, while three wickets went to the seamers and three were run out.

"Through those middle overs in this tournament when the ball gets old, and the wicket starts to spin, we are going to need our spinners to strike for us, and that didn't happen tonight," Ponting said.

"We were obviously a bit rusty, having had a long break between games."

This was Australia's first full match for more than a fortnight, following last weekend's no-result washout against Sri Lanka.

Ponting said, "I would have liked to have taken more wickets in the game, no doubt about that. But I'm not that disappointed.

"It probably would have been an easier option for us today to turn up and win the toss and bowl, but we needed a good solid hit-out," added Ponting, who opted to bat.

"We got a good, solid 50 overs with the bat and 50 overs with the ball. All the bowlers got a good workout, even Michael Clarke got five or six overs under his belt.

"It was a good opportunity for us to blow a few of the cobwebs out that have been building up over the last couple of weeks."

One major plus for Australia was the form of Michael Hussey, who marked his first match of the tournament with a composed 54.

He came in with the total at 143 for four after Australia had lost several wickets in quick succession, but then shared a stand of 114 with vice-captain Michael Clarke (93) that effectively ended any slim hopes of a Kenyan upset.

It was a typical display from the veteran left-hander, controversially omitted after the selectors refused to accept his assurances he would be fit in time following hamstring trouble.

He was summoned to the subcontinent as a replacement for injured fast bowler Doug Bollinger.

"He played the way that we know he can play," Ponting said of Hussey, who was selected instead of younger brother David Hussey.

"That's his class and his experience shining through. It looked like he hadn't missed a beat. He didn't appear to be hindered at all throughout his innings or in the field. It's a great sign for us."

Star batsman Ponting did not mark becoming the first player to be on the winning side in 250 one-day internationals with a vintage innings, and was lbw for a scratchy 36.

"I would have liked to have spent a bit more time out there," he said.

"But I got 50-odd balls in the middle, got a bit of time there and I'll be a lot better for the run," Ponting added ahead of Australia's next group match, against Canada here on Wednesday.


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