Batting legend Ricky Ponting was full of praise for Mohammed Siraj, calling the Indian pacer an “ultimate competitor” after his impressive bowling display in the first innings of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) 2023 Final against Australia.
However, Ponting feels India “let themselves down” by not bowling fuller as Australia piled up 469/10 in their first innings on the back of stunning centuries from Travis Head (163) and Steve Smith (121).
Siraj was the stand-out bowler for India, returning with four wickets by conceding 108 runs in his 28.3 overs. Usman Khawaja (0), Head, Pat Cummins (9) and Nathan Lyon (9) were his victims.
“I loved seeing that and he looks like the ultimate competitor. Maybe sometimes he gets carried away and goes a little bit over the top, but you need those guys in your side when things aren’t going well,” Ponting told ICC after the second day’s play at The Oval.
“He was the one today (Thursday) who said I am going to be the guy that is going to turn things around and what I loved was that his pace didn’t drop at all during the whole innings.
“From the first ball yesterday morning until late this afternoon, his pace was hovering around that 86 or 87-mile and hour mark and that says a lot about a great attitude,” he added.
According to Ponting, Indian bowlers should have bowled fuller lengths instead of bowling short.
“I think where they let themselves down was in the first hour yesterday and bowling too short. With the wicket conditions, the overhead conditions they had and the brand new Dukes ball, they had to bowl fuller and get the ball driven back down the ground. They needed to have Australia four or five down at lunch and they only had them two down which was a pretty good result (for Australia),” he stated.
India’s decision to leave out No.1 ranked Test spinner R Ashwin for the WTC final sparked an outrage. Without commenting on Ashwin’s omission, Ponting said the move to play four seamers might pay its dividends later in the game.
“I know the captain wears the brunt of it (criticism), but I know it’s not only his decision. I saw Rahul Dravid and him (Rohit Sharma) out in the middle yesterday morning and they had a long discussion about what they wanted to do at the toss.” Ponting said.
“If they wanted to bowl first I think they had to play the four seamers. So far you would say it hasn’t paid off — but there is a long way to go and we probably shouldn’t be too quick to judge,” he added.