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Ponting hopes for a Tendulkar-sort rebirth

 MELBOURNE, March 27 (PTI): Australian captain Ricky Ponting is hoping for a “Tendulkar-sort rebirth” after his century against India in the World Cup quarterfinal in Ahmedabad last Thursday.

“I guess with even making some runs in this last game that I’ve played and getting that really good feeling back about my batting again, hopefully it might be a bit of a kick-start for a Tendulkar-sort rebirth, if you like,” Ponting told AAP today, on his arrival from India.

Tendulkar has scored 379 World Cup runs, the third highest aggregate of the tournament, at an average of 54. He averaged 81 in his most recent Test series against South Africa in a battle between the world’s top two ranked nations.

Amidst lot of critcism, the star batsmen who had led Australia to back-to-back World Cup triumphs feels that he still has a lot to contribute.

Ponting said the next couple of days would be crucial for him in determining the way forward for both himself and the team.

“I see myself as a leader around the group, simple as that, whether I’m captain or not I still think I’ve got a lot to offer as far as leadership qualities go.”

Though heartened by the recent support of senior officials, Ponting said he was “absolutely” prepared to drop down the order and not continue as captain, “if that’s what they (Cricket Australia,) and I believe is the best way forward.”

He admitted the quantity of runs he scored in recent months had been “a lot shorter” than what he wanted. But Ponting stressed he had no imminent retirement date in mind.

“I’ll know the right time that it’s time for me to not be playing any more and I haven’t found that time just yet,” Ponting said. The skipper feels that the upcoming review of Australian cricket needed to examine the game from the bottom up.

“Starting at grassroot level and junior cricket, right the way through the elite teams and their performances, we have to turn that upside down and inside out,” Ponting said.

Questioned about Australia’s reliance on the pace trio of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson at the World Cup, Ponting said pre-tournament injuries to spinners Nathan Hauritz and Xavier Doherty robbed him of alternatives.

“You look at the other teams that are left in the tournament now, they are probably doing it a slightly different way than what we did,” Ponting said.

“A lot of them are only playing their two quicks and having a lot of spinning options, but unfortunately for us we never had that luxury.”

He expected CA to send the strongest available side to Bangladesh for next month’s three-match one-day series and said he definitely wanted to be part of that squad.

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