Nielsen speaks over Ponting-Lee spat

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New Delhi, Oct 23 (UNI) Breaking his silence over the on-field clash between Australian skipper Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee, coach Tim Nielsen said a poor over-rate was not the main reason the strike bowler was not used in the first session of the fourth day in Mohali.

Lee argued with Ponting on a morning when part-time medium pacer Michael Hussey, debutant Peter Siddle, regular Mitchell Johnson and spinner Cameron White were all preferred over him.

Ponting and Michael Clarke both justified the decision by saying the team was about five overs behind the required rate - they also wanted to slow the speed of the ball down - but Nielsen said they were only three behind. It's not a level that would cause any player to fear a fine.

''We made a decision to take pace off the ball,'' Nielsen said.

''You don't see Hussey bowl too often. We changed things around because things weren't working for us. The over-rate wasn't crazily out of control: three down at the time. In the end it was a tactical decision.'' The team believes the incident, which featured heavily in Australian papers, was blown out of proportion and Ponting and Nielsen said there was no lingering resentment between the players.

However, Nielsen's explanation shows how worried Ponting was over the form of his main bowler, who he did not want to risk when India resumed their target setting at 100 for 1.

''When you're losing Tests, there's a lot of things being made of little issues,'' Nielsen said. ''When you're winning, that's not the case.'' Nielsen said Lee was ''frustrated'' but was fine mentally after a difficult off-season, which included separating from his wife.

''He's come from a 15-month period where he's had real impact every time he's been required,'' he said. ''In some regards, we've built this series up, it's got a bigger status than normal.

''Brett was keen to have a real impact and when that happens it is easy to get impatient and search for results. He's working hard, he's come off a break from his personal issues and has had a break from not playing in Darwin. All those things have added up to him being a little bit off the boil.'' Nielsen felt the bowlers were too impatient in Mohali, where India's batsmen worked the side into a position to set Australia 516 runs for victory.

''We were searching for results quickly because we felt like we were under pressure,'' he said. ''These conditions are unrelenting, if you're not quite right with your skills you get shown out.'' UNI CS AB SB KN1454

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