Sydney (The Telegraph): Former India captain Ravi Shastri spoke to The Telegraph at the SCG on Wednesday afternoon. The one-on-one was limited to Ricky Ponting, who completed his 40th Test hundred during the day.
The following are excerpts:
Q: Ponting had been under enormous pressure, courtesy the media, before this series began. How did you expect him to respond?
A: I expected Ponting to score two hundreds. He's already got one (134) and could end the series with at least 400 runs against his name.
What gave you the confidence?
Simply because Ponting was due for a big one... He hadn't got a hundred for two years and, if you look at the scorecards, you'll see that he either got out early or after a half-century... For Ponting, it was all about getting in and staying there... He looked good in both innings (62, 60) at the MCG and carried on from there. The signs had, indeed, been ominous in the first Test.
For the entire series...
Did we have the right strategy to get Ponting out late on the afternoon of Day I here?
From the beginning, Ponting didn't put a foot wrong. Moreover, one saw the determination, of wanting to end the drought.
Your take on this hundred of Ponting...
Ponting wasn't at his dashing or flamboyant best, but he didn't look in any trouble either... You've got to remember that he hadn't got a hundred for two years and, so, wanted to make the most of the start.
Where does Ponting stand vis-a-vis the other greats still playing the game — Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis?
Sachin will be No.1 because of longevity... Ponting has been a daring batsman... Very few pull and hook off the front foot as he does... I haven't seen that regularly from anybody else after (Sir) Viv Richards... At his peak, in conditions where the ball did something, Ponting registered terrific hundreds... There was a time when he got runs at will.
Sachin's No.1, but who is the No.2?
Both Ponting and Kallis are great batsmen, but in his prime, Ponting dominated attacks... Not so much Kallis. However, if you also look at the wickets taken by Kallis, then he'll be the No.1 cricketer of the past decade.
Do our 35-plus batsmen have something to learn from Ponting?
Look, the attacks have been different... Our batsmen have faced one attack, Ponting has been facing another. Our batsmen have faced 150 kmph bowlers who're at them all the time. It has been different for Ponting.
Is there something others need to take away from the way Ponting has responded to calls for his retirement/removal?
That hard work is a must... Look at Ponting's work ethic. His work ethic is second to none, the way he works out at nets.
The final one... Shouldn't greats be allowed the luxury of choosing when to call it a day?
I wouldn't say luxury... Greats know when to leave... Who knows, if Ponting goes on to have an exceptional series, he may then decide to call it a day.