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India's Ishant Sharma could not hide his delight after his "favourite batsman" Ricky Ponting hailed the fast bowler for his tremendous improvement on the tour.

The 19-year-old Delhi paceman bagged the man-of-the-match award on Sunday for his four-wicket haul, which set up India's five-wicket win in Melbourne.

Ishant's four for 38 included the scalps of Matthew Hayden, skipper Ponting and Andrew Symonds as Australia were bundled out for 159.

But it was Ponting's praise that made Ishant's day after the Australia skipper lauded the teenager's abilities with the ball.

Ishant, who also troubled Ponting in the Test series, said: "It feels very good to receive a compliment from my favourite batsman."

The teenager insisted his success against Ponting was simply down to sticking to a line just outside off-stump.

"The plan to Ponting was to keep the ball on the fourth stump, and it worked," he said.

"I did nothing extra. I was just sticking to the plans we had prepared for each batsman. It was the first time in this one-day series that I was bowling with the new ball, but there was no pressure.

"I enjoyed the fact that the captain and the seniors had enough belief in me to entrust me with the new ball.

"They told me to concentrate on bowling well, and testing the batsmen out."

Ponting has been severely tested by Ishant - he was dismissed twice by the teenager in third Test in Perth - and believes his introduction has been a big reason for India's improvement after a poor start to the tour.

Ponting told the Telegraph: "He's been a big improvement for India. He is a little bit different because he brings the ball back in to the right-handers more than a lot of right-arm bowlers you face.

"He's tall and hits the deck pretty hard and gets some inconsistent bounce from the wicket - one will fly through and another would skid past low.

"He looks dangerous with the angles he creates against the left-handers, taking it away from them."

India face face Sri Lanka in Canberra on Tuesday in the fifth match of the tri-nation Commonwealth Bank Series.
 
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