Australia in control after Ponting ton

Australia 254-4 v India
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The Independent Online

A century from captain Ricky Ponting, his first in India, helped Australia assume command on the first day of the first Test at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Ponting, adjudged leg before to Harbhajan Singh late in the day, hit 123 as Australia, who had chosen to bat first after winning the toss, closed the day on 254 for 4.

Zaheer Khan, who took the wicket of Matthew Hayden in the first over of play, struck again with the second new ball to remove Michael Clarke for 11, while the Indian captain, Anil Kumble, was unlucky not to get among the wickets. Hayden was dismissed for a duck off the third delivery of the day from Zaheer, when he was given out caught behind by the umpire Asad Rauf after some consideration. The Queenslander initially refused to walk and replays suggested that his bat hit his pad rather than the ball.

Ponting then held sway, although runs, initially, came at a crawl. The Australia captain was considerably troubled early on by the pace and swing generated by Ishant Sharma, the bowler three times presenting a case for leg before. He was turned down on all three occasions by the umpire Rudi Koertzen.

Yet Ponting soon had the measure of the Indian bowling and, in alliance with the unobtrusive Katich, put on 166 for the second wicket. Katich had seen off the shine from the new ball and looked set for a century when he uncharacteristically prodded loosely at a delivery from Sharma. Dhoni pouched an easy catch and Katich was out for 66.

Ponting marched on to reach his century, his 16th since being elevated to captain and 36th overall. His driving through the off side was impeccable and he was ruthless off his pads. He added 60 with Hussey before he was adjudged leg before while attempting to sweep Harbhajan. Replays, however, suggested the bowler was lucky.

Kumble, however, believed that he had had his opposite number much earlier on. Ponting was batting on 111 when Kumble appealed for a return catch. Koertzen dismissed the appeal believing that the ball had pitched before Kumble had taken the catch. Koertzen enforced his decision after a short conference with Rauf, but television replays suggested Ponting was fortunate.

Clarke, who hit a double century at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on his Test debut four years ago, immediately found his stride as he hit Kumble for consecutive boundaries – the first past square leg and the other through the covers. But the middle-order batsman was dismissed for 11 when he was hit plumb in front by Zaheer from the second delivery of the final over. Kumble had wheeled away for 27 overs, giving away 84 runs, while Harbhajan's 25 overs came at the cost of 71 runs.

* Half-centuries from Junaid Siddique and captain Mohammad Ashraful guided Bangladesh to a first win over New Zealand in a one-day international yesterday. Chasing 202 for victory, Bangladesh reached their target in the 46th over with seven wickets in hand. Ashraful finished unbeaten on 60.

Ricky rising: Most Test centuries


S R Tendulkar (India) 151/39

R T Ponting (Aus) 120/36

S M Gavaskar (India) 125/34

B C Lara (ICC/WI) 131/34

S R Waugh (Aus) 168/32