ADELAIDE: Ricky Ponting scored his 41st test century as he and Michael Clarke guided Australia to 335-3 at stumps on the first day of the fourth and final cricket test Tuesday.
Ponting, 137 not out, was joined by Clarke (140 not out) with Australia in trouble at 84-3 after Australia won the toss and batted first. The former and present captain shared a 251-run stand for the fourth wicket to steady the innings and leave Australia in a strong position.
The 37-year-old Ponting, who scored 134 in Sydney, was in fine form smashing 13 boundaries, while Clarke, at times riding his luck, was in punishing mood and hit a six and 19 fours.
The pair made full use of the flattening batting conditions and made India toil all day and rue its decision not to pick a second spinner to complement the offspin of Ravichandran Ashwin.
India turned to spin as early as in the fourth over after the first two overs with the new ball conceded 16 runs.
Ashwin was the only bowler apart from left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan to take wickets and trouble the Australian top order, and finished the day with figures of 2-81.
Ponting, who had revived his sagging 162-test career earlier in the series, became only the third batsman to score 13,000 test runs behind the Indians Tendulkar (15,432 runs) and Rahul Dravid (13,262). Ponting’s 41 hundreds ranks only behind Tendulkar’s 51.
The Indians bowlers went through the motions on an unresponsive pitch, and stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag brought himself on at times, along with part-time medium paceman Virat Kohli, in a bid to break the partnership.
Ponting and Clarke went about accumulating the runs untroubled, and Clarke, still fresh from his triple century in Sydney, dominated the partnership with some imperious batting.
He raced to his half century off 69 balls with successive boundaries off Ashwin, and reached a minor milestone scoring 1,000 runs in his 12 tests as captain.
Clarke the more entertaining, reaching his 100 off only 133 balls. His only blemish came while on 133 when he edged Ishant Sharma, armed with the second new ball, past a diving V.V.S. Laxman at second slip.
Earlier in the day, opener David Warner still fresh from his career-best 180 in Australia’s innings and 23-run win in Perth last week, was trapped lbw by Khan for 8 runs.
Three overs later, Shaun Marsh failed again and lost his off stump to Ashwin for 3, and opener Ed Cowan became Ashwin’s second victim when he was dismissed just before lunch for 30
Australia included offspinner Nathan Lyon for the spin-friendly Adelaide Oval wicket at the expense of left-arm swing bowler Mitchell Starc.
India, made two changes, bringing in wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha to replace the suspended skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ashwin for paceman Vinay Kumar.
Australia is looking to sweep the four-test series after commanding wins at Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.(AP)