You never know how things change in a span of few weeks. Ask Ricky Ponting how he feels since the turn of the new year. The runs and the smiles are back.
The former Australian skipper might be quietly thanking the Indian team for extending his Test career. Most of the times, Indian bowling looked ordinary and has brought Ponting back to his old self. However, it also shows that great players can pick themselves up when they are down.
Also read: Ponting completes 13,000 Test runs
Ponting, at 37, is not getting younger anymore. Before the start of the India-Australia Test series, he was under immense presssure to save his career. And since the start of the four-match rubber in Melbourne on December 26, and now, he has turned his career around magnificently with two centuries including a double ton on Wednesday at the Adelaide Oval.
While Ponting has bounced back in style, India's veterans have slipped from their high standards and are facing the prospect of an abrupt end to their glorious careers.
With most teams emphasising on getting younger players to take the country forward, Ponting, along with another veteran Michael Hussey were the ones marked as the men to make way for the future generation. However, thanks to India's surprisingly listless performance, both have regained their old touch in outstanding fashion.
Just weeks before the start of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, there was speculation that Ponting or Hussey would be dropped for the Test. But that did not happen and Ponting answered his critics with twin half centuries in that match. He followed that up with a century in Sydney. India lost both Tests and the next one too in Perth.
Prior to the 134 in Sydney Test, Ponting had a century drought dating back to January 2010. He had a run of 33 innings without a three-figure mark.
To add to that, left-hander Shaun Marsh had a dream debut in Sri Lanka and snatched Ponting's number three slot.
Ponting, one of the most successful batsmen at one-drop position, was demoted to number four slot during the Sri Lanka series in 2010.
Since then he has been batting there and what a success he has had in the current series. After he was dismissed for a magnificent 221 in Adelaide on Wednesday, Ponting took his series tally to 484 from five innings at an average of 96.80 with two hundreds and two fifties.
He said that pressure made him work harder and he is now reaping the fruits of those extra hours spent in the nets. And he is now a certainty to be on the plane to West Indies where Australia's next assignment is. And after the opening day's play in Adelaide, he made it clearing about his willingness to carry on, by saying, "I'm not retiring at the end of this Test match."
On Tuesday, in Adelaide, he also became the highest run-getter against India (2,344 in 28 Tests), going past Clive Lloyd of West Indies.
At times, India have been defensive in field settings allowing Ponting to find runs. In Sydney, he walked to the crease at 8/2 and what a partnership he had with captain Michale Clarke. In Adelaide it was a repeat of the duo's feat. Here too the team was in trouble when Ponting came, with score at 31/2. On both occasions India allowed Ponting to bat himself out of a pressure situation.
Between July, 2009 and December, 2011, Ponting had only two centuries. Those two came against England in Ashes (150 in Cardiff) , July, 2009) and 209 versus Pakistan in Hobart, January, 2010.
From July, 2009 to December, 2011, he was averaging just 38.22 with 1,720 runs in 26 matches. It was well below his standards.
Having gone past the 13,000-Test run mark on Tuesday and scoring his sixth double hundred the following day, Ponting has truly revived his career. And quietly he might be saying: "Thank You India."