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Friday, 27 January 2012

Upbeat Ponting rules out retirement after century

Ricky Ponting said his exuberant celebration of his 41st Test century in the fourth Test against India on Tuesday was not a sign of any impending retirement.

The 37-year-old became only the third batsman in history to pass 13,000 Test runs on his way to 137 not out in Adelaide — his second ton in three Test innings after a two-year drought. As he reached three figures, Ponting waved his bat in the air wildly, prompting speculation that he might be about to make an announcement about his playing future.

But the 162-Test veteran, unbeaten with captain Michael Clarke (140) at day one stumps with Australia sitting pretty at 335 for three, said he would not be retiring after the match, the last in the series.

“How did I know I'd come here and get asked questions about retirement?” Ponting, 37, laughed at the first question of the close-of-play press conference.

“It was a celebration mate, I usually do a similar celebration when I score a Test match hundred. I won't be retiring at the end of this Test match.”

Ponting joined Indians Sachin Tendulkar (15,432) and Rahul Dravid (13,262), in the exclusive 13,000-run club, but the gritty Tasmanian shrugged off the achievement.

“It's never been about making 13,000 runs or 14,000 runs. It's about doing what I can when it's required of me to get my team through a certain situation in a game. That's what motivates me.

“Winning Test matches and winning games of cricket for Australia is what motivates me to keep playing.”

Ponting said he thought his knock on Tuesday was better than his 134 in the second Test in Sydney earlier this month, which ended a two-year, 34 innings spell without a Test hundred.

“I felt I played better today than I did in Sydney, it was probably a better wicket to bat on today, there wasn't much in it for any of the Indian bowlers,” he said.

“It's been a really good day for us and we have to make sure we win the first hour tomorrow and make sure this first innings is a big one. I'm not going to be satisfied with where I am at. You go through too many ups and downs in your career to let moments like this slip.”

Ponting rejected suggestions of a poor Indian bowling attack in their ill-fated series against Australia.

“I don't think this is a bad attack at all, I just think our batsmen have played particularly well and when you put that kind of pressure back onto bowlers, most bowling attacks would look ordinary,” he said.

“India has nothing to lose in its irretrievable series position and has a license to play its natural game against rampant Australia, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said.

The Indians found themselves in a familiar position in the fourth Test, slaving away in the field as Australia piled on 335 for three on day one.

Ashwin, who was thrown the ball in the fourth over by stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag, believes all is not lost on the flat Adelaide batting strip.

“I think we have nothing to lose at this point in time,” he said. “Being three-nil down gives us a bit of a license to go out and play our natural game which could be a real blessing in disguise for us and all that's important is to (each) get those first 20-30 runs and stick it out.

“We'll have to look for those initial starts and try to capitalise and that could be the crucial part of this game.”

Ashwin said the tourists did not have a psychological block bowling against Ponting and Clarke, who claimed their second centuries of the series on Tuesday. “I don't think there is any psychological block towards that, but we were definitely telling and egging each other on especially in the second session of play,” he said.

“We had to be really tight in that particular phase after lunch where it was quite crucial and that's where we gave a few easy runs to both of them and they just took off from there. After that it was quite easy to carry the momentum on. It's happened in two Tests now in Sydney and now in Adelaide and we'll look to get a couple of wickets tomorrow.”

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