Ponting lauds cool Watson

CENTURION, South Africa, (Reuters) – Australia captain  Ricky Ponting praised Shane Watson’s coolness after the  all-rounder’s century steered the champions to a six-wicket win  over New Zealand in the Champions Trophy final yesterday. 

Australia, chasing 201 for victory, had slipped to six for  two before Watson proved guided them to victory with 105 not out  off 129 balls, following his 136 not out in the semi-final  against England.  

“I think people have started to see the real Shane Watson in  the last couple of matches. Now that he’s back to full fitness,  he’s showing everybody how good he can be. He bowled  terrifically against England and then went out and scored  130-odd, but you can’t get much tougher than tonight’s  situation,” Ponting told a news conference.  

“I’m ecstatic to win a tournament as big as this one, it’s  the second biggest one, there’s nothing else outside the World  Cup. It’s a very special achievement and a massive positive  after the ups and downs of the last 18 months,” Ponting said.  

The Australian captain said the performance of the younger  players in the rarefied atmosphere of a major final had been  especially pleasing. 

“To see youngsters like Shane and Cameron White stand up  tonight and get us across the line was very satisfying. I think  it’s one of our strengths that when the so-called big names  don’t stand up, others get up and do the job. The young guys are  starting to make major impacts in world events,” Ponting said.  

In disarray  

New Zealand were left in disarray when captain Daniel  Vettori was ruled out of the final by a hamstring injury.  

“Losing Dan was a huge blow because he’s been instrumental  with bat, ball and with his captaincy,” stand-in skipper Brendon  McCullum said. “He’s been huge not just in terms of his  performance but also the way he has inspired us.” 

McCullum said the Kiwis believed they could still win the  match when they claimed the two early Australian wickets,  including that of Ponting for a single, and restricted them to  37 for two after 16 overs.  

“After those two quick wickets, we believed we could win and  we were pretty pumped up. But we were probably 50 runs short.”  

New Zealand also suffered a crucial fielding hiccup in the  18th over when McCullum dropped a skied pull by White off Ian  Butler. White had 15 at the time and went on to score 62 in a  match-winning third-wicket stand of 128.  

“It was obviously a crucial miss and unfortunately I was  responsible for it. I didn’t ever get set underneath it and in  the end I was lucky to even get a hand on it,” McCullum said.

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