Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Ponting frustrated by lack of Test practice

Preparations for Australia's final Test against India have been less than perfect as neither team have been able to practise at the match venue, captain Ricky Ponting said yesterday. Australia trail the hosts 1-0 in the four-match series going into the final Test, which began early this morning in Nagpur. The world's top ranked team are looking to avoid their first series defeat in three years.

"It is not ideal preparation, especially on a venue that has not been used in international cricket before," Ponting said. "You'd like to get there and understand the wicket a little bit more. But that's what you've got."

Both teams have practised at Nagpur's old stadium over the last two days. "I believe that the training facilities at the Test venue aren't ready yet. But it is the same situation for the Indian players. It is a pretty unusual situation for us to be in," said Ponting.

Indian batsman VVS Laxman hopes his rich vein of form against Australia will continue in this, his 100th Test match. "It's a great moment for me and for all the people associated in this journey of mine. I hope I can make it special," Laxman said.

The stylish middle-order batsman will become the eighth Indian to play in 100 Test matches. Six of Laxman's 13 Test centuries have come against Australia, including a second double hundred in last week's drawn third Test.

"I have always enjoyed playing against them. It gives you a lot of satisfaction to do well against the top side in the world," said Laxman, 34.

Australia have not lost a series home or away since the 2005 Ashes in England. India won the second Test at Mohali by 320 runs. The first and third Tests were drawn.