Ponting slams ton; Australia 425/3 at lunch

Published: Sunday, January 27, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Adelaide: Australian captain Ricky Ponting equalled Indian great Sunil Gavaskar by notching his 34th Test century on the fourth day of the fourth Test against India here.

Australia were 425 for three at lunch on the fourth day, with Ponting on 124 and Michael Clarke on 91. The pair had put on 184.

They still trailed India's first innings total of 526 by 101 runs, with a draw the most likely outcome of the match. Australia lead the series 2-1.

Ponting's century ended something of a drought for the Australian skipper, who went into the match with just 122 runs at 20.33 in the series and question marks over his ability to counter Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Ponting was extremely watchful early in his innings and struggled for touch, but he was back to his best on Sunday. He reached the milestone in 299 minutes, having faced 183 deliveries and hitting eight fours.

Although Ponting and Gavaskar have notched 34th Test centuries in their careers, Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar holds the record with 39.

Clarke was also nearing a century, after being gifted a couple of chances including being dropped just before lunch on 84 by Rahul Dravid at first slip from the bowling of part-time spinner Virender Sehwag.

He top edged an attempted cut and Dravid couldn't hang on to the sharp chance as it flew high to his right.

Australia, who have already regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, resumed at 322 for three, with the bad blood between the teams resurfacing after Saturday's play.

Sehwag suggested on Saturday evening that the cautious nature of Australia's batting meant they were "scared" of losing the match.

However, Australian opener Matthew Hayden, who made 103, then fired back by saying the Indians were bowling negatively to slow scoring and that the home side was happy to oblige, as a draw would ensure they won the series.

Tensions against surfaced just before lunch, when substitute fieldsman Dinesh Karthik and Clarke exchanged words after Billy Bowden correctly turned down an appeal for a catch at the wicket off Harbhajan.

Straight after the unsuccessful appeal, Clarke infuriated the Indians by twice pulling away as Harbhajan was about to bowl.


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