Relinquishing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy seemed a real possibility for the Australians before the start of play on day four of the final Test in Nagpur. But by tea the bowlers had put Australia in a good position. Following the break, if they could run through the tail cheaply, and there was every indication they could, the Aussie batsmen would have a chance of winning the match and retaining the Trophy.

But with over rates and the threat of suspension weighing on the captain’s mind, the part-timers were brought into the attack and the Indians piled on the runs. Victory is now a near impossibility for the visitors. It has led to an outpouring of ill-feeling from former players and commentators.

Baffling captaincy costs Australia chance of win. In one of the most baffling displays of captaincy seen in the long and proud history of Australian cricket, Ricky Ponting has denied his side a well-deserved chance of securing a famous victory … It is impossible to explain, let alone excuse, the tactics pursued by the Australia think tank. These events occurred directly after an interval. Somehow a group of experienced cricketers and leaders convinced themselves that the over rate was more important than the match. — Peter Roebuck, The Age

Stake through the heart of Test cricket. Ian Chappell once told his captain Bill Lawry “if that’s Test cricket you can stick it up you’re a-se”. I am with Chappell after soporific Saturday saw India strangle the last Test and Australia fail to respond in front of almost no spectators at Nagpur’s new, rural-based stadium. If there was ever a deliberate attempt to drive a stake through the heart of Test cricket and herd more people towards the Twenty20 explosion, this was it. It seems that the bright new boy of Indian cricket, the face on every billboard who has energised and enlivened a nation with his brilliant batting and captaincy in the short forms of the game, is happy to lead Test cricket back into the dark ages. Australia complacently followed. — Malcolm Conn, The Australian

Australia faces stiff task to win series. If Australia lost the plot, it was in the final session. They came out a different team, with Ponting not calling on Shane Watson, who impressed with two wickets after lunch, or Brett Lee. Cameron White’s first over went for 12 and Ponting, worried about a flagging over-rate, turned to Michael Hussey’s innocuous slow medium-pace. It was rather odd, given that Australia needed four wickets. Even stranger was the time Ponting often took to change bowlers and set fields. Whatever the true reason, it only aided India’s cause. — Jamie Alter, Cricinfo

In defence of Ricky Ponting. What administrators and commentators alike need to acknowledge is the game is vastly different to the one that was played 40 years ago, when 80 8-ball overs could be fitted into a day’s cricket. The money in the game puts pressure on captains and players, and so does the media scrutiny. Captains, rightly, now spend more time and mental energy getting bowling changes and field placing just as they want them. Ponting was damned either way in Nagpur yesterday; either damned for saving his own hide, or damned to miss his first test in four years. — blogofpunter

Australia in peril as Ricky Ponting loses grip. Up in the television commentary box, Border, who led Australia in 93 Test matches and laid the foundations of a golden age, was close to losing his cool. “I’m glad Ricky can’t read my mind right now,” he said, “because he’s not going to like it.” — Dileep Premachandran, Times Online

Ponting slammed for baffling captaincy. Ravi Shastri too came out hard at Ponting and said: “One thing Australia always did was put team before individual. In this case the individual would have been the Australian captain, who would have been docked or may have had to miss the Test match at the Gabba (against New Zealand) just in case Australia was behind the over rate. “But in the quest to win the Test match I think the team should have been thought about more than anything else,” said Shastri. — Cricketnext.com

Selfish skipper spin-sells series. Had the Aussies gone in for a kill after tea and restricted India to even 40 runs less they would have had a smaller target and much more time and overs to get there. International captains need to give a serious look at their teams’ bowling rates but this tactic of Ponting is beyond brains. He has not been up to the task of getting overs in time for months now and its been too many times now but he responded today in the way he did only because a one test match suspension hung over him. — Dr Mohit Goyal, IPL Cricket Forum

Ponting’s fears. How one can explain Australia’s tactics in the final session is beyond comprehension … It was unlike Australia and it was no wonder it had the ex-Australians players furious over the hour and half’s play that marked perhaps Australia’s most defensive move yet — only this time it was to save one man, not the pride of the proud sporting nation. Australia were repeatedly behind the fifteen overs per hour mark. Suddenly it dawned upon the Australians that this would not perhaps go down with the match referee and the ICC and could even land skipper Ricky Ponting with a one Test match suspension. In light of that fact, Australia, post tea, forgot to go for the kill and went about trying to save their skipper the ignominy. — Crickblog.com

Peter Fray

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