India may have slumped to the worst score in their Test history against Australia in Adelaide, but Ricky Ponting says that is only part of the problem.
Virat Kohli's side suffered an eight-wicket loss in the first Test at Adelaide Oval, where the tourists were skittled for just 36 in their second innings.
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It was India's lowest Test total in their proud history.
As bas as the batting was, Ponting says India's fielding was just as woeful and insisted it would need to improve if they're to stand any chance in the four-Test series.
India had a 53-run lead after the first innings after bowling Australia out for 191, but the advantage could have beeb so much greater had it not been for a litany of missed chances in the field.
Australia's second top scorer Marnus Labuschagne (47) was dropped three times, including once near the start of his innings.
India also dropped a chance to remove skipper and Aussie top-scorer Tim Paine (73) early on in his crucial batting display.
Former Aussie captain Ponting didn't mince his words when discussing the tourist's fielding after the match.
“How bad’s their fielding been this game?” Ponting said on Cricket.com.au’s The Unplayable Podcast.
“The Indian outfielding has been disgraceful.
“They’ll rue some of the chances from the first innings.
“Marnus put down three times early, Paine dropped early, so you can take probably 70-80 runs off Australia’s first innings if they held onto all their catches — then it might be a totally different game.”
Ponting believes Australia have opened up "serious wounds" as they seek to further demoralise an embarrassed India.
‘Good chance’ of an Aussie clean sweep
Kohli's return home will make levelling the four-Test series even harder for India, who are losing both a talismanic captain and arguably the world's best batsman.
Paceman Mohammed Shami, who was struck on the arm by Pat Cummins during the stunning collapse, is also set to be an enforced omission for the Boxing Day Test and possibly the series.
Tim Paine, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were all keen to talk up the threat posed by India in the aftermath of the annihilation in Adelaide.
But Ponting suggested in no uncertain terms that the visitors, having unravelled so spectacularly, may struggle to pick up the pieces.
"Now there's some serious wounds opened up," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"There could be a good chance (of a 4-0 series sweep).
"Let's hope we do get a result in Melbourne and if we do, I think India's going to find it really hard to bounce back and win a game.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 20, 2020
"We'll learn a lot about them, won't we? With Kohli not being there as well, there's almost no-one to pick them back up after a loss like that."
Ajinkya Rahane will captain India in the remaining three Tests.
Prithvi Shaw is under pressure to retain his spot at the top of the order, having failed to snap a form slump in Adelaide.
Shubman Gill is likely to make his Test debut in Melbourne, regardless of whether the visitors opt to axe Shaw or not.
Ponting suggested Rishabh Pant, a contentious omission for the series opener, had to return at the MCG.
"They've got to make a couple of changes," Ponting said.
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