Australia 259-3 West Indies: Ponting closes in on Test milestone as Australians make assured start

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The Independent Online

Ricky Ponting passed the 10,000 test runs mark and Simon Katich scored an unbeaten 113 for Australia who made 259 for three on the first day of the second test here yesterday.

In front of a woefully small crowd and on a deadly dull batting track at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, the tourists went about their business in steady and sensible fashion with Ponting making 65 and then Michael Clark confidently adding 38.

It was clear from the first few deliveries of the day from pacemen Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards which barely reached the gloves of wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, that the West Indian attack was going to be in for a long hard day.

Katich, whose return to test cricket in this series comes after nearly three years' absence, was badly in need of a score after his failure in both innings at Sabina Park last week.

The day though belonged to Ponting who became one of just seven batsmen to pass five figures in test cricket, joining two other former Australia captains Allan Border and Steve Waugh in that elite club.

The tourists lost opener Phil Jaques for 17, with the score on 36, when he was trapped lbw by an in-swinging full-length delivery from Dwayne Bravo.

Then Ponting, who made 158 in the first innings of the first Test in Kingston, Jamaica last week, went to the crease needing 61 to reach the milestone. Ponting and Katich took Australia to 70 for one by lunch and never looked in trouble, batting throughout the afternoon session without loss.

Ponting reached 61 and 10,000, with a two off Ramnaresh Sarwan. Shortly after the muted celebrations of his achievement - the stadium announcer did not acknowledge the landmark nor did either of the giant screens - he was on his way after reaching towards a Jerome Taylor delivery wide outside off stump and edging to Xavier Marshall at second slip.

Mike Hussey will be furious that he made only 10 on this wicket, before he pulled a lame long-hop from medium-pacer Darren Sammy straight to Shivnarine Chanderpaul at mid-wicket.

Clarke, who missed the first test as he was on compassionate leave, joined Katich and the pair put on 60 before the close leaving Australia well placed to make a big first innings score today.

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