Ponting sizing-up hundred against West Indies

Published: Friday, May 23, 2008, 1:56 [IST]
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Ricky Ponting was within reach of his 35th Test hundred to lead Australia to 189 for three in their first innings at tea in the opening Test against West Indies on Thursday.

At the break, Ponting was undefeated on 96 and Brad Hodge was unbeaten on eight, after Mike Hussey became the first scalp for West Indies off-spin bowler Amit Jaggernauth on his Test debut in the last half-hour before tea on the opening day at Sabina Park.

Ponting, circumspect before lunch, played more fluently after the interval, and was closing in on his hundred which would be his seventh against West Indies and fifth in the Caribbean.

He'd reached his 50, when he punched a delivery from Darren Sammy to deep point and scrambled a single.

The Australia captain also formalised a 100-run partnership with Hussey, when he pulled Dwayne Bravo through mid-wicket for his eighth boundary.

Ponting and Hussey added 137 for the second wicket to help Australia recover from a shaky start, when they had slipped to 37 for two in the first hour.

Hussey batted painstakingly for most of innings, and completed his 50 when he leg-glanced Bravo to deep fine leg for his fifth boundary.

But he was undone, when he was caught at slip for 56 playing back and sparring at a sharply turning ball from Jaggernauth which wrong-footed slip fielder Bravo, who still held a low, right-handed catch.

Before lunch, Ponting and Hussey carried Australia to 87 for two in their first innings after the visitors chose to bat.

Australia suffered an early setback, when Simon Katich, playing his first Test in 2-1/2 years, was caught at gully off Edwards for 12 in the first half-hour.

The left-handed Katich was asked to open the batting in light of an Achilles injury which has sidelined Matthew Hayden, and was just emerging from a nervous start, when he guided a delivery outside the off-stump to Darren Sammy.

Phil Jaques, one of the Australians making their first trip to the Caribbean, was adjudged lbw for nine in Edwards' next over, when he played back and across a well-pitched delivery.

Hussey joined Ponting at the wicket and they navigated Australia through the remainder of the period to stem the fall of wickets.

Hussey flicked Powell to deep fine leg for two to formalise the 50-run partnership for the third wicket pair.

Edwards has been the West Indies' most successful bowler with two wickets for 35 runs from 10 overs.

Both teams included one Test newcomer apiece. Off-spin bowler Amit Jaggernauth became the 270th player to wear "the Maroon Cap" for West Indies, and wicketkeeper/batsman Brad Haddin is the 400th player to wear "the Baggy Green."

Australia have won 12 of the last 13 Tests they have contested against West Indies. They hold the Frank Worrell Trophy - symbol of Test supremacy against West Indies - and they have not lost a Test series in the Caribbean since 1991.

The second Test between the two sides starts on May 30 at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua, and the third Test starts on June 12 at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

The Aussies also contest a Twenty20 International and five one-day internationals.

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