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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Ponting, Clarke put India to the sword again

Ponting, Clarke put India to the sword again

Last updated on: January 24, 2012 14:30 IST

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke scored centuries and combined for 251 runs to drive Australia to 335 for 3, as India wilted in the Adelaide sun on the opening day of the fourth Test on Tuesday.

- Scorecard

A rejuvenated Ponting became just the third cricketer to score 13,000 Test runs as he finished the day 137 not out, while Clarke, his successor as Australia captain, notched his fourth century in eight Tests with an unbeaten 140.

India's hopes of salvaging a modicum of pride after losing the series following emphatic defeats in the first three Tests looked bright when they removed Australia's top order before lunch, but melted in 37 degree Celsius heat in the afternoon.

Ponting's 41st Test century was far more fluent than the 40th, which he scored to end a two-year drought in the second Test in Sydney earlier this month.

The 37-year-old, who scored his 13,000th Test run with a swept single to deep square leg, brought up the hundred in 164 balls, with his 11th four, and doffed his helmet to accept a standing ovation from the crowd.

Ricky Ponting and Michael ClarkePonting's century was his fourth in four Test matches against India at Adelaide, including a 242 in a losing cause in 2003.

Clarke, who won the toss and elected to bat on a good batting track, shared a record partnership of 288 with Ponting in Sydney when he hit a brilliant 329 not out.

After the pair had again rescued Australia's innings from 84-3 to 214 at tea, Clarke made a statement two balls into the final session by marching down the pitch to smash a huge six off part-time spinner Virender Sehwag.

The 30-year-old reached the century, his 19th in Tests, with a less emphatic stroke and the ball trickled to the boundary at fourth man for his 14th four.

Sehwag had made a promising start as stand-in skipper for the banned Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the morning, keeping the Australians on the back foot and bucking convention by introducing recalled spinner Ravi Ashwin in the fourth over.

It was the pace bowling of Zaheer Khan at the other end, however, that forced the breakthrough when his inswinger trapped left-hander David Warner leg before for eight with just 26 runs showing on the picturesque ground's famous old scoreboard.

Shaun Marsh had scored 14 in four innings in the series and his poor form continued when he misjudged the flight of an Ashwin delivery, which went between bat and pad, took the bails off and sent him scurrying back to the pavilion for three.

Ashwin struck again 10 minutes before lunch, dismissing Ed Cowan for 30, after tempting the opener into a miscued cover drive that VVS Laxman intercepted with a fine low catch at short cover to leave Australia struggling.

India took the new ball five overs before the end of the day and Ishant Sharma almost dismissed Clarke, but Laxman was, this time, unable to hold a difficult catch.

Source:
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