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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Ponting steps down as Australia captain

Posted: 28 Mar 2011 07:35 PM PDT

Pregnant pause as Ricky Ponting fronts a news conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground today, March 29, 2011. — Reuters pic

SYDNEY, March 29, — Ricky Ponting, the most successful captain in 134 years of Test cricket, today resigned as the Australian Test and one-day skipper but will continue as a batsman with the team.

The 36-year-old, who has led Australia in one-day internationals since 2002 and Tests since 2004, has been under increasing pressure after an Ashes defeat to England and a quarter-final exit as defending champions at the World Cup.

"Today I've decided to stand down as captain of the Test team and the one-day team as of now," he told a news conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

"The main reason for me is I think it's the right time . . . I wanted to make sure that I gave the next captain every opportunity I possibly could to make sure he has as much experience going forward in the next couple of big events that we will play."

Earlier in a statement he said: "I will continue to play, and am available for both the one-day and Test teams."

While Ponting's batting record brooks no argument, his captaincy has often been criticised as Australia has declined as a force in world cricket, with three defeats to England in the Ashes series in particular damaging his reputation.

Australia went to the World Cup as double defending champions but returned home after defeat to India in the last eight, their unbeaten run of matches in the tournament having been ended at 34 by Pakistan in the group stage.

On his return to Australia at the weekend, Ponting acknowledged the pressure on him, and said he would consider his position before the squad to tour Bangladesh was announced tomorrow.

Ponting bucked a poor run of form to hit a defiant century in the quarter-final defeat to India in Ahmedabad, which will only have increased his determination to continue playing international cricket.

Michael Clarke, who stood in for the injured Ponting in the final Ashes Test and for the one-day series against England that followed it, is expected to replace his mentor as skipper.

Australia will play three one-dayers in Bangladesh next month, with trips to Sri Lanka and South Africa scheduled for later in the southern hemisphere winter. — Reuters

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Top seed Wozniacki upset by German Petkovic

Posted: 28 Mar 2011 05:57 PM PDT

When the energy level dropped on Caroline Wozniacki: Raw power outsmarted by the touch of Andrea Petkovic at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, March 28, 2011. — Reuters pic

MIAMI, March 29 — World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki suffered a surprise fourth-round defeat by Germany's Andrea Petkovic in the Sony Ericsson Open yesterday, falling victim to a smart strategy from her lower-ranked opponent.

Petkovic, ranked 23rd, played positive attacking tennis in the Florida sunshine at Key Biscayne to move into the quarter-finals with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over the Dane.

Petkovic saved 12 of 17 break points against Wozniacki but the foundations of her success were an aggressive serve and subtle variations in her game.

She resisted the temptation to try and slug it out with Wozniacki, opting instead to mix up her shots and employ a range of different speeds, then celebrating her victory with a jig she has dubbed the "Petko dance".

"Most of the players think they can overpower Caroline. I think that's the wrong approach, because that's where she's most comfortable, when she can run and bring the most balls back," Petkovic told reporters.

"What I try to do is mix it up and to make her play, and then when I had the short ball to go for it."

Wozniacki lost the opening set after squandering three set points and later said she only had herself to blame for the defeat.

"I had so many chances in my first set," she said. "I had set points and I didn't take them, then just the energy level dropped a little bit and I lost the match. That's what happens in sport."

Russian Maria Sharapova, still working her way back from injury, eased past Australian Samantha Stosur, ranked fifth in the world, winning 6-4, 6-1. Sharapova, currently ranked 16th, has never been beaten by Stosur in seven meetings.

Second seed Kim Clijsters was scheduled to face Serbian Ana Ivanovic later yesterday. — Reuters

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