HomeSportPonting Century Puts Australia On Top

Ponting Century Puts Australia On Top

AUSTRALIAN captain Ricky Ponting hit 123 –– his first century in India –– to help them reach 254-4 on the opening day of the first Test in Bangalore yesterday.

The tourists made the worst possible start when Matthew Hayden was adjudged caught behind off Zaheer Khan for a duck in the first over.
But Ponting and Simon Katich (66) added a patient second-wicket stand of 166.
Ponting was eventually lbw to Harbhajan Singh and Michael Clarke (11) fell to Zaheer off the last ball of the day.
It was a determined effort from Ponting, who belied his previous Test average in India of just under 13 and gave his side an early advantage in this much-anticipated series.
However, Zaheer’s two wickets book ended the day, and were reward for some wholehearted effort on a pitch which proved good for batting.
Australia made three changes from their last Test against West Indies in June.
With injuries and retirements having deprived the tourists of several spinning options, leg-spinning all-rounder Cameron White was handed his first Test cap –– having been preferred to off-spinner Jason Kejza after joining the squad late as a replacement for injured Bryce McGain.
Zaheer and Ishant Sharma found some movement and bounce with the new ball, and the crowd were on their feet when the early wicket came.
Hayden’s day was ended off the third ball of the match as the left-hander appeared to feather the thinnest of edges through to keeper Mahendra Dhoni –– who reclaimed his place in the side after opting out of the recent Tests against Sri Lanka.
Umpire Asad Rauf eventually raised his finger, although replays indicated that the ball just passed Hayden’s outside edge as his bat hit his front pad.
Ponting was lucky to survive a hostile spell from Sharma, getting the benefit of the doubt when he offered no stroke and was struck on the pad.
But the Australian captain also showed his class with an exquisitely-timed square drive for four off Sharma –– and after initially threatening with the new ball, all India’s bowlers proved less effective as the day wore on.
The seam movement offered by the pitch earlier in the day was long gone by the time Ponting reached fifty with a cover-driven four off Zaheer.
Katich looked happy to play the supporting role to his captain, looking good off his legs, but he too survived a strong lbw appeal from captain Anil Kumble when he had made 34.
Harbhajan soon served up a generous half-volley which Katich comfortably guided to the boundary to reach his own 50.
Having bowled a tidy eight-over spell with the new ball, Sharma was surprisingly not called upon again until mid-afternoon, by which time the Australian pair were well set.
But with tea looming, it was Sharma who made the breakthrough as he induced an edge from Katich on 66 and Dhoni eagerly grabbed his second catch of the day.
The interval delayed Ponting’s hundred – but not by long as he steered Kumble past point and punched the air in celebration at reaching his 36th Test century.
Mike Hussey, having taken over Katich’s supporting role, had a let-off when a faint edge to Kumble hit Dhoni’s thumb and bounced out of his gloves and he and Ponting were soon plundering plenty of quick singles to take advantage of India’s veteran fielders.
Zaheer tried different angles of attack against Ponting –– bowling over the wicket, around the wicket and with Dhoni standing up to the stumps, and belatedly found some movement with the old ball.
The Aussie skipper had another stroke of luck when umpire Rudi Koertzen turned down a caught-and-bowled appeal from Kumble, the South African official apparently judging it to be a bump ball.  And by the 78th over, when Kumble turned to Sehwag’s occasional off-spin as his fifth bowler, it was looking all too easy for Ponting and Hussey.
But the very next over, with 226 on the board, Ponting tried to sweep Harbhajan, was struck low on the front pad and Rauf raised his finger once more. Buoyed by this dismissal, Kumble delayed taking the second new ball, and it was Hussey’s turn to be the senior partner as he and Michael Clarke looked comfortable against the spinners.
However, Kumble eventually took the new ball three overs before the close – and with Hussey undefeated on 46, Clarke was trapped in front for 11 by Zaheer in the final over.
India are out for revenge after losing the four-Test series 2-1 when the sides met in Australia at the beginning of the year. –– BBC Sports

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