Poor team selection caused defeat: Ponting

Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008, 18:34 [IST]
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Perth: Australia captain Ricky Ponting said his team weren't pressing the panic button following their first Test loss in two years, but admitted they erred in team selection for the third Test against India.

India snatched a memorable win by 72 runs here after Australia plumped for four pacemen and went into the match without a specialist spinner for the first time in 16 years.

Straight after their defeat, which ended a record-equalling 16 Test winning streak by the Australians, Ponting conceded they misread the Perth pitch, which was not anywhere near as fast and bouncy as pre-match speculation suggested.

"We probably misread the conditions leading into this game a bit," he said.

"Anyone who got out and had a look at the wicket leading up to the game might have thought it might have had a lot more pace and bounce in it than we did.

"We picked a team that we thought could win."

Still 2-1 up in the series after their first home Test defeat since also being beaten by India in late 2003, Australia's decision to go with a four-pronged pace attack clearly backfired.

Shaun Tait, in just his third Test, struggled and only bowled 21 overs for the match as Australia battled horrendously slow over rates, failing to pick up a wicket.

The big speedster now seems certain to make way for spinner Brad Hogg in the fourth Test in Adelaide, starting on Thursday.

Ponting said veteran opener Matthew Hayden, who missed the third Test with a hamstring injury, was almost certain to be available for the fourth Test.

He announced Australia had stuck with the same 12 originally chosen for Perth, with late inclusion Chris Rogers making way for Hayden after a modest Test debut.

"I think it's pretty likely he'll play," Ponting said of Hayden.

"He's had a week and a half up his belt, so I'm pretty sure he'll be right for Adelaide," he said.

"He's one of the all-time great opening batsmen that's ever played the game, we missed him and hopefully he can come back to Adelaide for us and make some runs down there."

Despite losing their first match since the fourth Test against England at Trent Bridge in August, 2005, Ponting dismissed any concerns Australia were now being exposed as vulnerable following the retirement of champion bowlers Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath last year.

"I thought our preparation was great and it was just little critical moments in this Test match we faltered, and it's been a long time since we've done that, or if we have done that we've been good enough to fight our way back, and we weren't in this game," he said.

"I was reading stuff like that in the paper today, is the invincibility all over?

"I wouldn't have thought so, but we'll see. It's up to us now to see how we bounce back in Adelaide," he said.

"We played some great cricket in Melbourne, we played some great cricket in Sydney.

"We've let ourselves down a little bit in this game but it's about how we bounce back from that now."


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