Melbourne: Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting both smashed half-centuries to put Australia in a commanding position in the second cricket test against India today before a thunderstorm washed out the second day. Gilchrist blasted 77 not out while Ponting made an unbeaten 59 as Australia reached 332 for five in their first innings at the Melbourne cricket ground. Australia, who won the first test in Adelaide by 285 runs, had resumed the day on 138 for 3 after half of the first day was washed out by rain.
Play was abandoned two hours early at tea when the field was flooded after a heavy downpour left pools of water on the playing surface. Match officials said an extra hour would be added to each of the remaining three scheduled days to make up for lost time after most of the first day was also washed out.
The storm spoiled what had otherwise been a productive day for the Australians, who are chasing their sixth test win on the trot after opening their three-match series with India with a comprehensive 285-run win at Adelaide.
Australia, who won the first test in Adelaide by 285 runs, had resumed the day on 138 for 3 after half of the first day was washed out by rain. Conscious of the threat of rain, Australia's batsmen wasted little time chasing quick runs. Opener Michael Slater added 27 to his overnight score of 64 before departing for 91, pulling a long hop from Indian paceman Venkatesh Prasad straight to Javagal Srinath at fine leg.
It was the eighth time in Slater's test career that he has fallen during the "nervous 90s" and the second time in six weeks. Prasad rubbed salt into Slater's wounds by performing a little jig in front of the departing batsman as he trudged from the field, only to earn himself a charge of bringing the game into disrepute. Australian captain Steve Waugh, who holds the unwanted record of nine test dismissals in the 90s, also fell early in the day when he edged Prasad behind for 32 with the total on 197 before Gilchrist and Slater increased the tempo with a 135-run partnership.
Gilchrist was given the benefit of the doubt by third umpire bill Sheehan after leg spinner Anil Kumble claimed a low return catch when he was on seven. Unconcerned by his close shave, Gilchrist went on to post his third test half-century in his fourth test, slashing 12 boundaries during a typically adventurous 135-minute innings. Ponting was content to play a more patient role in his 144-minute stay at the crease, hitting just five fours.