PONTING

Ricky Ponting’s Mumbai Indians finally got on to the board in the ongoing 8th edition of the Indian Premier League as they beat Royal Challengers Bangalore yesterday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Batting first, Mumbai posted more than 200 and then defended that score successfully with the wily off spinner Harbhajan Singh leading the way for them.

Bangalore actually approached the chase with an unclear mind. They had more than 10 runs per over to score from the start and it was a no brainer that they had to go hard, but, for some reason, they were happy scoring just a run a ball in the power play and as a result of that, the pressure kept mounting.

However, in spite of that sort of start, Bangalore managed to reach 191 and that suggests how good the wicket was.

If the start had been a little better, the target was gettable.

The culprit for Bangalore again was Chris Gayle. He took too many deliveries upfront and then, got out leaving the other players with an impossible task.

AB De Villiers though, being the inhuman that he is, tried his best batting with a strike rate of more than 400, but, there was always the possibility of him going to mistime a stroke somewhere down the line and it happened.

The under scrutiny Australian Cricket team captain Michael Clarke has once again received support from one of his closest mates Shane Warne. Warne reckons there is no need to get panicky about Australia’s situation as of now. The team has been doing reasonably well in the bowling and fielding departments and it’s just the batting which needs some lift.

According to Warne, not only are the Kangaroos capable of becoming the first ranked team in the world in all three formats of the game, they can lift their 4th World Cup title as well on home soil if the selectors pick the right squad.

Speaking in a cricket programme yesterday, Warne said, “As far as Michael is concerned, his recent failures don’t worry me that much. He seems to be getting into good positions. It’s just that he has not been able to put a big one together. But, I think some big knocks off his bat is just a matter of time.”

“However, if you talk about batting as a whole, then, I would say, yes, there is a little bit of concern there. In the series versus Pakistan, there were some poor batting displays and some lift is obviously needed there. With the bowling that we have, if we start putting on the runs, we will be winning games on more occasions than not.”

Clarke has scored just one hundred in the last 8 test matches that he has played. In the last one year or so, he has just not scored big at all if that hundred in the Cape Town test match is barred. So, the pressure is on him.

With the young Steven Smith being tipped to be ready to take the captaincy, Clarke can’t breathe easy.