Ponting baffled by Australia exit

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The Independent Online

Ricky Ponting set off for Leicester this morning still at a loss to explain how and why his Australia team are already out of the ICC World Twenty20.

Australia lasted just four days in the tournament, only Scotland and Bangladesh exited earlier, losing first to West Indies by seven wickets and then by six to Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge last night.

Ponting must somehow try to fathom what went wrong, and then begin picking up the members of the squad who will be staying on with him to try to retain the Ashes against England over the next two months.

"We obviously had very high expectations. I don't know where we went wrong, to tell the truth," he admitted, after half-centuries from Tillekeratne Dilshan (53) and Kumar Sangakkara (55no) helped Sri Lanka through to the Super Eights at Australia's expense.

The job was done with six balls to spare, after Ajantha Mendis (three for 20) had helped to restrict Australia to only 159 for nine.

Ponting's team were conceivably rocked by key all-rounder Andrew Symonds' departure on the eve of the tournament for disciplinary reasons.

But the captain reported nothing amiss with the spirit in his squad.

"The attitude around the group was great coming into the tournament, and we had some very good form in the warm-up matches," he explained.

"But the way we've played in the last two games, we've made way too many mistakes. You just can't afford to do that against good teams.

"I'd like to be able to tell you I knew what was going wrong. That's five international Twenty20 games we've lost in a row. That is a bit of a worrying trend."

Ponting and Co must come to terms with a shock to the system, and put it behind them in time to face England in five Tests, starting in Cardiff early next month.

"I couldn't be happier with the squad the selectors picked. I think if you look at our team on paper it probably stacks up as well as any of the others going around," he said.

"But when the big moments have come around, we've just stumbled.

"We knew we were in a group with two very dangerous sides, and that is certainly the way it's turned out.

"I can't tell you how disappointed I am that we're not through to the next stage - for the reason that I can't really understand why."

While Australia can only contemplate their unscheduled week of non-competition in Leicester, and watching from afar as the tournament comes to the boil, Sangakkara's team will be back on the field of play tomorrow in a final Group C match against West Indies which will now be largely inconsequential.

The Sri Lanka captain is hugely encouraged at knocking out the team they lost to in the final of the last World Cup.

But he is taking nothing for granted about the remainder of the campaign.

"Cricket's a great leveller," he observed.

"Come tomorrow, it's a completely different game.

"If we think this win is going to carry us through the tournament, I think we are going to be surprised and mistaken so we've got to approach every game as a fresh game and go back to square one.

"We take that confidence with us, take that belief with us. But we also practise hard, prepare hard and be prepared for things not to go our way every single time we play."