Ponting under fire as Aussies face huge task

LONDON: Ricky Ponting's captaincy again came under scrutiny by the Australian media on Sunday as his team faced almost certain defeat in the second Ashes Test against England at Lord's.

Australia will need to set a new world record run chase if they are to win after England reached 311 for six in their second innings on Saturday for a lead of 521 runs with two days remaining.

Ponting's unhappy match continued with Australia's proud record of not having lost at Lord's in 75 years under extreme threat when he fluffed two chances to put England under pressure.

His frustrations bubbled over when he exchanged words with star England batsman Kevin Pietersen and umpire Rudi Koertzen over a contentious catch.

"For someone who has just become Australia's second most experienced captain, Ricky Ponting should have known better," The Sunday Telegraph's Malcolm Conn said.

"His annoyed discussion with umpire Koertzen and toe-to-toe confrontation with Pietersen as Australia continued its second Test meltdown was a bad look."

Conn said it was one of the worst team performances in Ponting's time in the Australian set-up.

"Ponting will be remembered as one of the greatest batsmen of all time but his captaincy will be remembered in part for his approach to umpires and opponents," he said.

"Ponting spends too much time talking to umpires. It is a part of his game which international opponents have confided they do not like."

The Sun Herald said Australia faced a monumental struggle to save the second Ashes Test.

"Ponting missed a chance to run out Pietersen and then in the next over the Australian captain put down a simple chance at second slip with Bopara on nine," The Sun Herald's Chloe Saltau said.

"Ponting again entrusted Mitchell Johnson with the new ball but he conceded almost a run a ball for three overs before he was replaced."

The Sunday Telegraph dwelt on Ponting's symbolic dropped catch.

"The inexplicable blunder to drop Bopara at second slip simply had to be seen to be believed as Ponting crouched low, got his fingers in front of his face but somehow botched the catch," the newspaper's Ben Dorries said.

"And to make matters worse the crowd roared and chortled every time the drop was replayed on the electronic scoreboard."

The Sun Herald's columnist Peter Roebuck said Australia have paid a heavy price for their profligacy with bat and ball.

"England have been superior with bat and ball and apart from Ben Hilfenhaus, the (Australian) bowlers hardly put together a single tight over let alone a testing spell," he said.

"Having appeared efficient in (first Test) Cardiff, the Australians batting was bereft at Lord's."

ABC radio commentator Jim Maxwell said:"England sense victory and it is hard to see any other result with two days to play."