ICC Hall of Famer Ricky Ponting has revealed the key session during which he believes India got it wrong over the first two days of the ICC World Test Championship Final, but is excited by fast bowler Mohammed Siraj’s attitude and skill.
Australia have dominated the majority of the opening two days of the one-off Test at The Oval on the back of centuries from Travis Head and Steve Smith and a polished bowling performance from their trio of fast bowlers, while India have struggled to come to terms with the unpredictable pitch and tricky English conditions they are facing at The Oval.
While Ponting believes India skipper Rohit Sharma may have erred at the toss when he decided to bowl first, the Australia legend said the captain did not receive the support he needed from the quartet of seamers at his disposal.
"I think where they let themselves down was in the first hour yesterday and bowling too short," Ponting told the ICC.
"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)."
Ponting said he also noticed head coach Rahul Dravid deep in discussion with the India captain just moments prior to the toss on Wednesday.
"I know the captain wears the brunt of it (criticism), but I know it’s not only his decision," Ponting noted.
"I saw Rahul Dravid and him out (Rohit) in the middle yesterday morning and they had a long discussion about what they wanted to do at the toss.
"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."
And while Ponting thought India got their tactics wrong on the opening day, he was impressed with their second day fightback, as they claimed 142/7 to give themselves a chance of working their way back into the contest.
Siraj was a major catalyst for India's improved performance with the ball on the second day in south London, with the right-armer relishing the challenge of bowling to Australia's strong batting line-up - and picking up four valuable wickets.
Siraj peppered Australia’s bevy of quality batters with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries and also got involved in a few mid-pitch staring competitions that immediately brought a smile to Ponting’s face.
"I loved seeing that and he looks like the ultimate competitor," Ponting said of Siraj.
"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.
"He was the one today 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."