Ponting consolidates Australian innings (Tea report)

October 9th, 2008 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 9 (IANS) Australia stamped their authority on day one of the first cricket Test as Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich recorded fluent half-centuries at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here Thursday.Ponting exorcised the spectre of earlier tours, carving a dignified, if not classy, 94, his highest score on Indian soil. His previous best was 60 at Eden Gardens in 1998.

The plucky Australian skipper is within six runs of notching his 36th Test hundred. He is within three centuries of drawing abreast of Sachin Tednulkar’s record 39 hundreds.

Ponting’s stubborn 166-run second wicket association with Katich, after Matthew Hayden had perished to the third ball of the day, ensured that the visitors were sitting pretty at 166 for two at tea, a position from where they can consolidate and plot another Indian conquest at one of their favourite venues in the sub-continent. Incidentally, they have won two of their three previous Tests here, in 1998 and 2004.

Ponting and Katich’s resolve to drop anchor at the wicket and wear out the Indians’ nerves paid dividends, as Anil Kumble’s legion grew increasingly frustrated during the post-lunch session. For, the stodgy twosome had an answer to every strategy that India employed, growing from strength to strength with each over. Though the conditions were hot and humid they stole singles with ease to keep the pressure on the Indian fielders.

To add to Indian woes, Kumble and Harbhajan were unimpressive. Both could be accused of drifting the ball on to the pads, while offering easy picking for Ponting, who is predominantly strong on the leg side. Six of Ponting’s boundaries came in the arc between long on and square leg.

Katich, who had stood between India and a rare series victory Down Under in 2003-04 with a pugnacious 125, also helped himself to easy runs, bringing up his third half century against India. The left hander could well have carved a century himself, but he waved his willow at a distant Ishant Sharma delivery, offering Dhoni a regulation catch.

At tea, giving Ponting company at the crease was Mike Hussey who was yet to score.

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