Ponting defends Johnson for irking Laxman

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New Delhi, Nov 3 (UNI) Australian captain Ricky Ponting came in defense of Mitchell Johnson who was involved in an on-field confrontation with VVS Laxman and said it was because of the Indian's comments on the pacer that raised the temper in the middle.

''There was no real malice from anything Mitchell had to say. It was about some of the comments that VVS had made in the newspapers, to tell the truth,'' Ponting said after the drawn Test here at Feroz Shah Kotla yesterday.

''That was all he was talking about. The umpires spoke to me and said it happened three times in the over, I think, and it wasn't acceptable. So I spoke to Mitchell at the break and that was it,'' he added.

Ponting, however, added that the behaviour, during the Delhi Test, should not be repeated as it looks worse than it actually is from the sidelines.

''Some of those things (confrontations) don't look very good from the sidelines and us as players need to understand they can look worse from the sidelines than they might be on the field, he stated.

The match, which will mostly be remembered for Indian captain Anil Kumble's last Test, saw a number of heated exchanges between the players from both the teams.

India's Gautam Gambhir has even been banned for one Test by match referee after he elbowed Shane Watson, although the opener has appealed against the ban.

Gambhir, who struck a double century in the match, was again seen in a heated exchange with Simon Katiuch and it was only after the intervention of the umpire that the two players were separated.

On the final day of the Test, Johnson was seen irking Laxman not once but thrice in the very same over for which the umpire had to speak to the pacer and his captain.

Ponting said the incidents had nothing to do with frustration creeping in within the Australian bowlers for not being able to get wickets.

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