Ponting rues not getting big scores
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting gave little indication he would be riding off into the sunset after the India series following his second successive half-century on the third day of the first Test on Wednesday.
Ponting, Australia's most prolific run scorer in Tests and third all-time, stroked a defiant 60 in a 115-run partnership with Mike Hussey to add to his first innings 62 in a solid return to form following his dismal series against New Zealand.
But the 37-year-old Tasmanian, who has been under pressure to justify his place in the team with runs, rued not going on with the job after his wicket sparked yet another Australian batting collapse.
I'm disappointed: Ponting
"When you spend that much time in the middle, as a top order batter it's your job to go on make big scores," Ponting said, after Australia took a 230-run lead at stumps with two wickets in hand.
"So I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to do that in either innings of this game, particularly in the second innings when we were in some early trouble, fighting our way into a pretty strong position and when I got out we lost a couple of wickets on top of that."
The partnership may also have saved Hussey's career, the gritty 36-year-old hanging on with 79 at the close as his partners wilted around him at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Hussey might also thank India No. 3, Rahul Dravid who dropped a simple catch behind the wicket when he was on 69.
Image: Michael Hussey
'The way Hussey handled the situation was great'
The let-off has given Hussey, who made a pair of golden ducks in his previous two innings, a great chance to play the hero on day four and drive Australia to a defendable total against India's formidable batting lineup.
"Most of our batting collapses of late have actually been in the second innings as well when we've had games to set up," Ponting said.
"Today I thought a couple of guys were a little bit unlucky... I thought the way that Mike approached his batting when he came to the crease was the way that you want to play.
"You have to show great intent and you have to counter-attack at different times and I thought the way Mike Hussey handled that situation today was great."
Ponting dismisses the idea of retirement
While Ponting's half-centuries have bought him time, it has been nearly two years since his last century and his place remains awkward in captain Michael Clarke's rebuilding team, despite its brittle batting unit.
The crowds at the Melbourne Cricket Ground have greeted the batsman as if it were his last test, rising to their feet to applaud him on his walk out to the crease and again when he has raised his bat to salute them after his half-centuries.
Ponting dismissed the idea he would ever willingly leave the game, even if a few good innings might afford him the chance to exit on a high and on his own terms.
'Support in the dressing room matters to me'
Nor would he ever pay heed to the ranks of former players and pundits lining up to tell him what to do.
"It's my job to be a consistent run-scorer for Australia and do my best to win games of cricket for Australia," he said.
"If I feel like I've got some support in the dressing room that's all that really matters to me.
"I want to do the best that I can to get this Australian cricket team back to a bit higher ranked than we are at the moment.
"If I can read something and learn something about what's going to make me a better player I'll do it, but deep down I know what I have to do to be the best player that I can be."