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Ponting on borrowed time

SYDNEY, March 22- Ricky Ponting could be in the final week of his nine-year reign as captain after a troubled build-up to the World Cup, a report said Tuesday, citing a Cricket Australia official.

The Sydney Morning Herald said there was stiff opposition at boardroom level to the 36-year-old retaining the job for next month’s tour of Bangladesh, although his position as a player was not in jeopardy.

"We need to be looking at the future. It’s time for us to make a change," the newspaper quoted the official as saying.

Ahead of the World Cup, Ponting earned the dubious distinction of becoming the only Australian skipper to fail to win the Ashes three times, putting him under enormous pressure.

He has also done himself no favours in India, taking a reprimand from the International Cricket Council after smashing a dressing-room TV in a fit of fury after being run out during Australia’s World Cup win over Zimbabwe.

He was also criticised for angrily throwing the ball to the ground after colliding with teammate Steven Smith during their victory over Canada.

Then his sportsmanship was questioned when he failed to walk in Saturday’s defeat to Pakistan.

"We’re waiting for the next thing to blow up," the official said. "We don’t go a game without there being some issues with him."

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Michael Clarke, who led Australia to an emphatic 6-1 one-day series victory over England to give them a boost after the post-Ashes despondency, is seen as favourite to take his job.

The Australians face India in Thursday’s World Cup quarter-final in Ahmedabad.

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