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Ricky Ponting [Images] scored his first century as Australian Test captain to put the world champions in control of the final Test against Pakistan at Sydney on Monday.
Ponting ended his 12-month drought with a majestic 155 not out to steer Australia past Pakistan's modest first innings total of 304 and reach 340 for four at the end of the second day.
The skipper shared a 174-run partnership with Damien Martyn, who added a brisk 67, to leave Australia 36 runs in front at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Adam Gilchrist [Images] was unbeaten on 17.
Pakistan, already 2-0 down and now facing the possibility of a series whitewash, dismissed the Australian openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden [Images] early, but had little else to celebrate after being outplayed yet again.
The tourists had resumed their first innings on 292-9 but added just 12 more runs to the total when Kamran Akmal was caught by Shane Warne [Images] at first slip off Glenn McGrath for 47, giving the lanky paceman his fourth wicket of the match.
Pakistan made an early breakthrough when Naved-ul-Hasan bowled Justin Langer for 13 with a vicious inswinger then leg-spinner Danish Kaneria claimed a second scalp before lunch by bowling Matthew Hayden for 26.
However, Ponting and Martyn immediately put Australia back in control, batting through the entire middle session with Ponting reaching his hundred shortly before tea.
Ponting's form with the bat had slipped since he took over the Test captaincy from Steve Waugh a year ago.
The 30-year-old had a career average of nearly 56 when Waugh departed but had averaged less than 42 in nine Tests as skipper and his frustration was starting to show as he failed to add to his tally of 20 Test hundreds.
He had made five half-centuries in the past year, including 92 against Sri Lanka [Images] in March and 98 against Pakistan in Perth last month, but made no mistake getting to 100 this time.
He hardly played a false stroke as he brought up the milestone in the most emphatic fashion in a little over three hours, driving Naved to the boundary after 143 balls, before removing his helmet and saluting the crowd.
His immediate relief was obvious to all but there was no let-off for the Pakistanis as he continued to pile on the runs, ending the day with 23 boundaries to his name and eyeing a possible double-century.
Martyn, who was bidding to become the first Australian since Don Bradman in 1948 to score hundreds in three consecutive Test innings, also delighted in smashing the pedestrian Pakistan attack to all parts of the ground.
He passed his 50 off 80 balls but departed shortly after tea when he danced down the pitch to Kaneria and was stumped by Akmal.
Australia's new batting sensation Michael Clarke [Images] scored a brisk 35 in a 61-run stand with Ponting but threw his wicket away when a bigger score beckoned, falling in identical fashion to Martyn.
Clarke struck five boundaries and drove Kaneria over his head for six. The wily wrist-spinner got his revenge but was later ordered to appear in front of a disciplinary panel on a charge of misconduct after the batsmen's dismissal.
Pakistan first innings (overnight 292-9)
Salman Butt [Images] c Gilchrist b McGrath 108
Yasir Hameed [Images] c Clarke b Warne 58
Younis Khan c McGrath b MacGill 46
Yousuf Youhana c Warne b MacGill 8
Asim Kamal c Gillespie b MacGill 10
Shahid Afridi [Images] c McGrath b MacGill 12
Kamran Akmal c Warne b McGrath 47
Naved-ul-Hasan lbw b McGrath 0
Shoaib Akhtar [Images] b McGrath 0
Danish Kaneria c Gilchrist b MacGill 3
Mohammad Asif [Images] not out 0
Extras (b-6 lb-2 w-1 nb-3) 12
Total (all out, 86.4 overs) 304
Fall of wickets: 1-102 2-193 3-209 4-241 5-241 6-261 7-261 8-261 9-280 10-304
Bowling: McGrath 16.4-5-50-4, Gillespie 14-3-47-0 (nb-3), Watson 10-3-28-0, Warne 24-4-84-1, MacGill 22-4-87-5 (w-1)
Australia first innings
J.Langer b Naved-ul-Hasan 13
M.Hayden b Danish Kaneria 26
R.Ponting not out 155
D.Martyn st Kamran Akmal b Danish Kaneria 67
M.Clarke st Kamran Akmal b Danish Kaneria 35
A.Gilchrist not out 17
Extras (b-4 lb-9 w-3 nb-11) 27
Total (for four wickets, 86 overs) 340
Fall of wickets: 1-26 2-83 3-257 4-318
To bat: S.Watson, S.Warne, J.Gillespie, S.MacGill, G.McGrath.
Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 10-1-46-0 (nb-2), Naved-ul-Hasan 14-2-61-1 (nb-7), Mohammad Asif 12-3-48-0 (nb-2), Danish Kaneria 30-4-106-3 (w-3), Shahid Afridi 20-3-66-0.
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