MELBOURNE, Dec 29: Captain Ricky Ponting on Saturday kept a lid on expectations as his all-conquering Australian team edge closer to a world record number of Test cricket victories.

The Australians had a comprehensive 337-run over India in the first of the four-match series for their 15th straight win.

They enter next Wednesday’s New Year’s Test in Sydney needing a victory to equal their own world record of 16 wins set under Ponting’s predecessor Steve Waugh from October 1999 to February 2001.

Such was the emphatic nature of their Melbourne victory that expectations are rising that Ponting’s team will carry on their form in Sydney and equal the record ahead of the remaining Tests in Perth and Adelaide.

But the skipper is talking down the excitement. “It’s getting closer by the game, but we didn’t mention it at all going into this game and that’s the way I prefer it as well,” Ponting said on Saturday.

“I think if we just go about our normal business, getting well prepared for games and playing good cricket then those sort of things will look after themselves.

“There’s a lot of hard work and a lot of great play to go into winning any Test match and we played well here and hopefully we can go to Sydney and play even better, and if we do then that record will be even closer once again.”

Ponting was delighted with the way his bowlers patiently went about their work on an unresponsive slow drop-in MCG pitch, suffocating the Indians who have one of the biggest batting reputations in world cricket.

“We played excellent cricket all the way through. I thought the discipline we have showed with the bat to grind out the runs and then to stick to our plans with the ball, which was foreign to us, was very pleasing,” he said.

“We are more used to being able to blast teams out and have lots of slips and gullies in place but this game we’ve had to do things differently and we’ve been able to do it very well.

“It’s a very pleasing win, because the wicket we played on was more suited to the sub-continental style of play and we’ve adapted really well.”

Ponting declared his team’s second innings late on Friday’s third day, setting India a massive 499 runs to win the Test.

Only three teams in Test cricket history have scored 400 or more in the fourth innings for victory.

“I never thought we were going to lose the game when I declared last night, I must admit,” he said.

“But saying that, I expected it to be really hard work. We knew today was going to be very hot so we were hoping we could get the game over and done with today.

“It would have been hard for the guys to back up again tomorrow.

“I felt, thinking about it last night, that ... Dravid, Laxman and those sorts of guys have been known to bat for long periods of time and particularly on wickets like this one, so I felt it might have been a tough day for us.

“But the way we bowled and fielded was outstanding and we took nearly every chance that came our way.”—AFP

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