Hayden bats for Ponting

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Melbourne, Nov.13 : Australian opener Mathew Hayden launched a stirring defence of his skipper Ricky Ponting, warning that rival nations would pay for the criticism Punter has copped.

Arriving back home in Brisbane on Wednesday, the veteran opener said Ponting would respond with both his bat and his leadership.

"I think we all know that Ricky Ponting is an absolute bloody champion and is one right across the globe during the entire reign of his captaincy. I, as one of his senior players, completely endorse where he's at as an individual and as a captain. For me, the next six months will show you again why he can rebuild another Australian side which has lost a lot of its grand champions over the last two years to become another very, very formidable opponent," The Age quoted him, as saying.

"We've got some incredible cricket coming up and Rick won't be distracted by this," he added.

Former Australian captains Allan Border and Ian Chappell were two of Ponting's harshest critics as many in the cricket fraternity were left bewildered by his actions after tea on day four of the Nagpur Test against India.

With an over rate nine behind the requirement, and facing possible suspension, Ponting called upon Michael Hussey, Cameron White and Michael Clarke ahead of strike bowlers Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson when India was in trouble at 6-166. India went on to make 295 and force Australia to chase a near impossible 382 for victory.

Hayden said: "We have had trouble with our over rate for a long time now and it's not just us, international cricket seems to struggle for whatever reason. It's a frustrating one and one we have to deal with and find some strategies to get through 90 overs. In shield cricket we get through 96 overs out here."

ANI

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