Ponting: I'm still best man to lead Ashes campaign

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The Independent Online

Ricky Ponting is adamant he should still captain Australia in the forthcoming Ashes series despite overseeing the team's worst losing streak in 22 years.

A defiant Ponting returned to Sydney yesterday, a day after India won the Border-Gavaskar series 2-0 amid heavy criticism from his former team-mate Shane Warne and ex-Australia fast bowler Geoff Lawson.

Warne questioned Ponting's field settings for the off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, while Lawson called for the captain to hand over the leadership to Michael Clarke for the Ashes series.

Asked if he was still the right man for the job, Ponting replied: "Absolutely – I've got no doubt about that at all. I will give my absolute best as I always have since I've been the Australian captain... to be the best leader I can be and the best player I can be." He admitted to being concerned at Australia's slide down the Test rankings, with England, who they face in the first Test in Brisbane next month, now above them. "We were always very proud of the fact we were the No 1-ranked team in Test cricket and one-day cricket for such a long period of time," he said.

"Our Test form has not been as you would have liked. It's bad – no one's proud of the fact we've lost three Test matches in a row. But I've got great confidence in all the players that will represent Australia this year."

Meanwhile, Shakib al-Hasan produced a brilliant all-round performance in the fourth one-day international against New Zealand in Mirpur to help Bangladesh to a maiden series victory over top-flight opposition. Bangladesh won by nine runs to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

Shakib cracked 106 runs off 113 balls under pressure to guide Bangladesh to a competitive 241 before taking 3-54 as New Zealand were dismissed for 232.

New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson had threatened to spoil the party with 108 off 132 balls, but Bangladesh managed to hold their nerve in the final over and dismissed him with three balls to spare.