Border backs Ponting for Ashes tilt

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Former Australia captain Allan Border led the tributes to departing Australian skipper Ricky Ponting and endorsed his decision to play on.

Ponting has decided to stand down from the Test and one-day captaincy but will make himself available for selection and wants to have another go at the Ashes over here in 2013.

The Tasmanian leaves after 77 Tests and 227 ODIs in charge. He had 48 Test wins as captain but is the only man to suffer three Ashes series defeats as a captain.

Border, however, has huge admiration for Ponting and backs him to regain his best form with the bat.

“I fully support his decision to relinquish both captaincies and I don’t think it will be an issue at all if he continues to play as a batsman under Michael Clarke or another captain’s leadership.

“I think in the interests of himself and the team, it’s quite timely the captaincy issue is put to bed once and for all but I think he still has to be in the side.

“He is still in the top six batsmen in the country and showed with his century in the World Cup quarter-final against India that he still has what it takes to play at international level, so I don’t think that should be debated.

“Is it a problem for a former captain to play under a new leader? We always used to pick the team first and pick the best candidate to captain the team. I think that’s subtly changed over the years - now we tend to pick the captain and pick the team.”

Sri Lanka overcame a late wobble to battle past New Zealand by five wickets and book their place in the World Cup final yesterday.

The co-hosts were coasting to victory while Tillakaratne Dilshan (73) was continuing his prolific form in a 120-run stand with Kumar Sangakkara (54). Dilshan deposed England’s Jonathan Trott as the tournament’s top runscorer in what appeared a straightforward chase of 217 all out under lights at the Premadasa Stadium.

But the second-wicket pair were both among the batsmen to go as Sri Lanka stumbled and stalled from 160 for one in the 33rd over to 185 for five in the 43rd.

Some strong nerves were therefore required from the late middle order to haul them through - with a flattering 13 balls to spare - to an all-subcontinental showpiece decider in Mumbai on Saturday, against either Pakistan or India.

It will be a third, and second successive, final for today’s winners - while New Zealand have now appeared in six semis yet have still not managed to take the next step.

In the final on Saturday, Sri Lanka meet the winners of today’s semi-final between India and Pakistan.