Ponting, Boon backs Katich as Hayden replacement

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Antigua, May 30 (UNI) Despite the poor performance of stop-gap opener Simon Katich in the first Test, Australia captain Ricky Ponting said the left-handed batsman deserved another opportunity and he can make a greater contribution in the second Test beginning here today.

''He seemed to get a bit carried away in the first innings of the first Test,'' Ponting wrote in the Australian. ''He was back in the Test team, sighting the ball well and he struck a few boundaries early and he just went for one that he should have left alone.

''I had a good chat with him yesterday and he said he felt as good as ever at the crease in the second innings but he got one that surprised him a little with a bit of pace and a bit of inswing. He's riding an incredible wave of confidence. He's seeing the ball well and hitting it well and I am sure we will see him make some runs in the next game.'' Katich had opened the innings in the first Test as Matthew Hayden was out due to injury but failed to make any impact scoring only 12 and 1.

Katich's national call came after a stunning domestic campaign in which he broke the record for most runs in a Pura Cup season.

He generally bats at Number three for his domestic Team New South Wales but he has also opened for them on several occasions.

One of the selectors, and former Australian opener David Boon also backed Katich as a replacement of swash-bucling left-handed opener Matthew Hayden and said it is not so difficult for a number three batsman to open the innings.

''I wouldn't say it's like versus like, but if you bat in the top three you should be able to open if required,'' Boon told the paper.

''It's easier for an opener to go back down the order than it is for someone to go up and open, but if you bat in the top three, as long as you get it in your brain that you want to do it, it's fine.'' UNI XC RKM AB VC2000

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