Cricket News

Ponting unhappy with Centurion pitch

CENTURION, South Africa (Reuters) - Australia captain Ricky Ponting was critical of the Centurion pitch after his team’s Champions Trophy defence almost ended against Pakistan on Wednesday.

Australia's Ricky Ponting watches the ball as Pakistan's Umar Gul fields the ball during the ICC Champions Trophy cricket match between Pakistan and Australia in Pretoria September 30, 2009. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Australia, chasing just 206 for victory and a place in the semi-finals, crashed to 187 for eight before sneaking home by two wickets off the last ball of the match.

“I never thought it would get that close when we were 138 for two with 20 overs left. But then I got out and it was not an easy pitch,” Ponting told a news conference.

“If you lost a wicket, then it was really hard for the incoming batsman. If the bowler took the pace off then it was not easy to get the ball away and particularly hard to get boundaries.

“But we snuck across the line and we’re where we want to be in the semi-finals,” Ponting said.

Australia will play England in Friday’s semi-final in Centurion and Ponting said he hoped a better pitch would be used.

“There may be a fresh pitch for the semi-final and then that would last for the final too. I know all the batsmen will be hoping for a fresh pitch,” Ponting said.

Australia beat England 6-1 in a recent one-day series.

“Although it is a case of wiping the slate clean because the semi-final will be played in different conditions and there have been personnel changes, I would much rather have won that series 6-1 than lost it 6-1,” Ponting said.

“It means we played very well against them, we’ve played a lot against them in the last month and we know their strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, we’ll be able to exploit that,” he added.

Pakistan captain Younus Khan said he was not too concerned about his team’s defeat heading into the semi-finals.

“There’s nothing bad about it because like South Africa and Sri Lanka in the last T20, you can win all your matches in the first stage and then suddenly lose a big game,” Younus said.

“It will be good for us, sometimes it’s good for a team to be defeated, it makes you tougher,” Younus said.

Editing by Ed Osmond; to query or comment on this story email