Cricketing great and former Test captain Ricky Ponting has ripped into Australia’s batting order after their calamitous collapse on day three of the Boxing Day Test against India.
The visitors earned a 131-run advantage after their first innings, and followed that up with an impressive and consistent effort in the field.
'SAD EXIT': Joe Burns under fire after dismal dismissal
Australia lost six wickets for just a two-run lead by stumps on day three, with Cameron Green (19*) and Pat Cummins (15*) to take the crease on day four.
With the home side facing an uphill battle to build a lead that could be defended, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting was fiercely critical of their run chase, describing it simply as ‘poor batting’.
“You can’t blame the pitch. The pitch has been absolutely perfect today,” Ponting said.
“It’s a little bit of spin, yes, but you’d expect that (on) day three of a Test Match.
“(There’s) very little on offer for the fast bowlers, but it’s just been poor batting. Very, very poor batting.”
With the exception of opener Matthew Wade, who built a patient innings of 40, Australia’s top and middle order failed to make many meaningful contributions.
Joe Burns (4) and Steve Smith (8) failed to reach double figures, while Travis Head (17) was dismissed cheaply.
Marnus Labuschagne (28) failed to capitalise on his good start, while Tim Paine (1) was out after a controversial DRS decision.
“It’s been one of the reasons they’ve eventually got themselves out playing rash shots,” he said.
“They haven’t been able to tick the scoreboard over on a regular enough basis,” Ponting said.
“When pressure builds, bad shots come.
“They’ve actually forced the Australian batsman into making mistakes.
“When you’re just sitting there waiting for good bowlers to make mistakes, you’re basically a sitting duck.”
Smith wants to bat his way out of slump
World No.1 batsman Steve Smith is desperately chasing rhythm from more time in the middle as he seeks to drag himself out of a worrying form slump in the Test arena.
Smith, named this week as the ICC's Test player of the decade, has averaged just 26.40 with the bat for Australia since his superhuman effort in the 2019 Ashes - well down on his average of 61.33 throughout his glittering career.
The quirky right-hander blasted two hundreds in the three-match ODI series against India this summer but has managed just 10 runs at 3.33 during the first two Test matches.
He made a duck and eight in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG - where he had averaged a mind-boggling 113.50 in seven previous Tests.
"At the moment I'm searching for time in the middle; that's the most important thing for me," Smith told SEN on Tuesday.
"When I look at this year, 64 balls is the longest I've spent in the middle, during those one-day games.
"For me, that's important. I find a lot of rhythm out in the middle.
"You can bat as much as you want in the nets but there's nothing that can replicate what a game can do, so that for me is what I'm searching for at the moment.
"That can be tough to do, particularly in a Test match when you've got some quality bowlers."
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