Ponting doubts India can challenge Aussie might

Published: Monday, January 28, 2008, 17:33 [IST]
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Tough times ahead for India, says Ponting

Adelaide: Australia captain Ricky Ponting expressed doubts Monday about whether India were the team to challenge his side's dominance in Test cricket.

For the second time in four years, the Indians pushed Australia all the way on their home turf, losing the series 2-1 after the fourth and final Test ended in a tame draw.

India are the only side to have won a Test match in Australia since 2003 and are ranked second behind Ponting's men in the official International Cricket Council Test rankings.

Straight after the final day of the fourth Test, Ponting said the Indians deserved to be considered the second-best side in Test cricket, but later backed away from that.

When asked if India were the logical challengers to his team's dominance, he replied: "Probably not."

He added: "Although they are the number two ranked team, there are four of five of their best players that might go out of the team.

"It might happen before we next play them.

"They will go through a very similar phase to what we have gone though.

"They are number two but they have some rebuilding to go though."

Along with the retirement at the weekend of wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, in the past two years Australia have also lost bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, and batsmen Justin Langer and Damien Martyn.

And Ponting said India face a similar scenario.

Of the current Indian team, captain Anil Kumble (37), batsmen Sachin Tendulkar (34), V.V.S. Laxman (33), Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid (both 35) are in the veteran class.

Ponting said he believed Australia were still a fair way ahead of the rest and had shown great depth in covering the loss of some all-time greats for series wins against Sri Lanka and India.

"We have got enough talent around Australia to maintain the number one ranking in Test cricket," he said.

"We coped very well with the loss of the four (players) from last season.

"Our cricket against Sri Lanka was terrific and we started this series very well. You can't help but be impressed with what (batsman) Phil Jaques and (fast-bowler) Mitchell Johnson have done.

"Sri Lanka and India are two of the best Test teams in the world and we have beaten them both here.

"I am very comfortable with the makeup of the group."

However, Kumble dismissed Ponting's comments, pointing to the performance of India's unheralded attack in the series as proof of the depth in their cricket.

He said the Indians firmly believed they were the side to challenge Australia in the future.

"You have a few people who might not be a part of the Test squad in a couple of years, but then every team goes through that," he added.

"The talent that we have and the experience that these young bowlers and a couple of batters have had in Australia will certainly hold them in good stead whenever that transition happens."

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