The Star Late Edition
Oz in the driving seat
Ponting’s century points Aussies in right direction
RICKY Ponting scored his first century in two years and Michael Clarke a career-high unbeaten 170 as Australia took control of the second Test against India yesterday, reaching 394/4 at tea on day two.
Ponting departed just before the break for 134 to end the fourth-wicket partnership at 288 and bring Mike Hussey (eight not out) to the crease to join his skipper and help extend Australia’s lead to 158 over India’s first innings 191.
Clarke and his predecessor as Australia captain, Ponting, had come together yesterday on 37/3 and resumed on 116/3 on another sunny morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground before extending what could turn out to be a match-winning partnership.
Needing victory to even up the fourmatch series after a 122-run defeat in the opener in Melbourne last week, India’s bowlers had been hoping for some early wickets but instead laboured in the morning heat.
Clarke clipped the ball off his pads for three runs to bring up his 50 on the second ball of the morning and continued to play with composure as he moved towards his third century in his last six Tests.
Clearly charged with emotion, the 30year-old reached his 18th Test century, and the first of the series from either side, in the last over of the morning by slapping a Zaheer Khan delivery through the covers.
Ponting, who last scored a Test century against Pakistan in Hobart in January 2010, matched his protege almost run for run throughout the session but endured a nervous wait on 97 through the lunch break.
Three overs into the afternoon, however, the 37-year-old reached his 40th Test century with a rushed single off the bowling of Ishant Sharma that could have cost him his wicket.
Khan’s throw at the stumps missed, however, leaving Ponting to pick himself up, brush off the dust and take a standing ovation from the crowd.
It was the first long period of dominance for the bat in a series where bowlers have had the upper hand but India’s attack looked like journeymen until the new ball arrived.
Sharma finally broke up the partnership when he got some bounce into his deliveries and Ponting caught the ball high on the bat to give Tendulkar an easy catch in the gully.