x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ponting warns his counterpart life will have testing times

The Australia captain warns his new Pakistan counterpart, Salman Butt, his side will look to make "life as tough as possible".

LEEDS, ENGLAND // Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, has warned his new Pakistan counterpart, Salman Butt, his side will look to make "life as tough as possible" for him in his first Test in charge at Headingley today. "We know they've got a new leader for this game, and he's someone who played well in the last game," Ponting said. "We have to make sure we make life as tough as possible for him.

"We can only do that with the ball and how we bowl. I think our guys learned a fair bit about him bowling to him last week. We had done all our preparation, but I just don't think we executed the way we needed to for longer enough periods of time. "It showed at times last week when we bowled reasonably tight overs to him that a big shot was never too far away. We just have to make sure we build pressure for longer periods of time.

"How he'll deal with being captain I'm not sure. There's obviously more responsibility when you're captain and a top-order batsman, and as an opener it's going to be a hard job for him. "But he's been chosen as captain for a reason and the way he played last week was as good as I've seen him play." Asked if Butt should expect more chat from the Australians in the field, Ponting replied: "No, not at all. He's stepping up into a leadership role with their team, but their won't be any more pressure put on him like that.

"If any more pressure needs to be put on him this week it's going to be what we do with the ball." Ponting will be looking to get back among the runs himself after he endured another forgettable Lord's Test match when he managed scores of 26 and zero. It is an anomaly of the 35-year-old's career that he has never passed 50 at Lord's, however, Leeds has proved a far happier venue after recording his first ever Test century at Headingley 13 years ago.

Ponting averages 105.25 at the home of the White Rose county in three previous visits - with Australia's only success at last year's Ashes arriving at the ground. Asked to put his finger on why he has such a good record at Headingley, he said: "I don't know, I can't answer that. "I made my first ever Test match hundred here. When you have success at certain grounds you do have a good feeling about them when you come back."

* PA