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Ponting: It's time for action
Australian cricket captain calls for players to perform ahead of third test.
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2008 12:35 GMT

Pressure is on for Ricky Ponting [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has told his players it is time to stop talking and start performing as they attempt to claw back from a 0-1 deficit in Wednesday's third cricket test against an Indian line-up confident of clinching the series.

Australia, which lost the second match in Mohali by 320 runs, has spent the past week devising strategies to cope with the home side's powerful batting and success with reverse swing.

Positive training

"We can't do any more than we've done," Ponting said.

"Our training the past two days has been the best I've seen it for a long time."

Ponting said Steve Waugh, his predecessor as captain, had attended training in the Indian capital on Monday and "he said he'd never seen a team train as well as we did."

But, he warned, the strong build-up had to turn into on-field results.

"As I made clear to the guys, it's one thing to talk about these things, it's another thing to go out and do them under pressure in a test," he said.

"If we get the chance to bat first we have to start the innings better than we have in the first two games.

"If we bowl first we have to start our bowling innings a lot better too. (India) got the momentum early last week (in Mohali) and put us under pressure right from the start, and we were unable to claw our way back.

"It's a lot about how you start here, and it's how we've practiced the last few days."

Kumble, Dhoni and Singh relax before training [GALLO/GETTY]
Kumble confident

Since 1993 India has won seven tests in a row at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground and the home side expects the pitch to suit its slow bowlers.

"Going by the record we have at the Kotla and the kind of cricket we played in Mohali, it certainly gives us a lot of confidence going into the game," India captain Anil Kumble said.

"We are fully confident that we will be able to win the series here."

It is unlikely the hosts will select three spinners.

Kumble and injury doubt Harbhajan Singh are the preferred options, after coach Gary Kirsten said he wanted six batsmen in his lineup.

Amit Mishra, who took seven wickets on debut in Mohali after replacing the injured Kumble, will come in only if Harbhajan's sore toe or Kumble's right shoulder prevents them from playing.

Kumble, 38, has 55 wickets in six matches at the ground at an average of 15.41, with three man-of-the-match performances.

"I'm 100 percent fit," Kumble said.

"We've got the same XI as the last game, then I come in."

Matthew Hayden will need to improve his batting performance [GALLO/GETTY]
Clark back

Fast bowler Stuart Clark remains Australia's only injury concern with a right elbow problem, but he has trained well since the weekend and should regain his spot from Peter Siddle, who took four wickets in his first match.

Rookie offspinner Jason Krejza has been named in a 12-man squad, but Ponting will wait until the morning of the match to decide if he wants a more attacking option in Krejza, or the stronger defensive qualities of legspinner
Cameron White who has played the first two matches.

Ponting also has a nagging right wrist problem, which required an injection last week, but it does not affect his batting.

The skipper's form has been a concern since he broke through with his maiden hundred in India in the first test in Bangalore.

He has scored 17, 5 and 2 since then and has been troubled by Ishant Sharma's fast bowling.

Captains under pressure

"I've got to stand up as much as the next bloke," Ponting said.

"It's been three innings since I had an impact on the game with the bat.

"I've tried to completely dismiss last week.

"It was one of those games where we were totally out-played and what you've got to do is look at reasons why. You learn your lessons and push on."

Kumble struggled in the opening match in Bangalore, failing to take a wicket, and his place has come under more scrutiny since Amit's performance at Mohali.

"I don't think Kumble is under pressure," Ponting said.

"He might be putting a little bit of extra pressure on himself because he had a bad game.

"He's been around long enough to know how to handle those things."

Harbhajan Singh

Harbhajan, who delivered less than two overs at training, is just one wicket away from becoming the third India bowler to take 300 wickets in tests.

"He still has a little bit of discomfort," Kumble said.

"He's a key member for our success and we'd like to give him the maximum amount of time to decide if he's fit."

Ponting said the Australians might have been reading too much into the condition of the pitch.

"I had a look at it yesterday and there was a little bit of grass on it, but it was rock hard," Ponting said.

"It might not break up and spin as much as we anticipated."

One unpredictable factor for both teams will be the potential for heavy smog around the ground following the festival of Diwali.

Source:
Agencies
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