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Australia in bright start against West Indies

Published: Saturday, May 31, 2008, 1:13 [IST]
 
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ST JOHN'S:
Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting hit contrasting half-centuries and shared a century second-wicket stand to carry Australia to 151 for one in their first innings at tea in the second Test against West Indies on Friday.

At the break, Katich on 64 and Ponting on 57 were the not out batsman, after Australia chose to bat on a hard, docile Vivian Richards Cricket Ground pitch on the opening day of the Test.

Making full use of the ideal conditions, the Aussie pair added 115 after Phil Jaques was dismissed in the final half-hour before lunch.

Katich reached his 50, when he hooked Daren Powell to deep fine leg for the last of his six boundaries, and Australia captain Ponting brought up his half-century, when he swung a short ball from the same bowler over mid-wicket for the last of his five fours.

Ponting is eyeing another milestone in his illustrious career. He needs four more runs to become the seventh batsman to score 10,000 runs in Tests.

Ponting and Katich helped Australia emerge from a painstakingly slow start, after Katich and fellow opener Jaques batted circumspectly through the first hour-and-a-half, after a brief rain shower delayed the start by 15 minutes.

Australia may have been breathing a sigh of relief, and West Indies may have been grieving, when Fidel Edwards slid on the fresh pitch when he was about to deliver his first ball of the Test.

Fortunately for West Indies, it was a false alarm, and Edwards recovered to continue his opening spell, but he bowled raggedly in his opening spell, and the Aussies were able get away to a sound start.

Australia were coasting along, when Dwayne Bravo made the breakthrough, when Jaques was adjudged lbw to the bowler's third ball for 17, when he played back and across to a full-length delivery to leave Australia 37 for one.

Ponting came to the wicket and immediately played in his typically forthright manner, and the runs started to flow for Australia.

The Aussies made one change to their line-up, when Michael Clarke replaced Brad Hodge, and West Indies made two switches, Xavier Marshall and Jerome Taylor replacing Brenton Parchment and Amit Jaggernauth.

West Indies captain Chris Gayle was ruled out of the Test just prior to the start because he has still not fully recovered from his groin injury.

Australia lead the three-Test series 1-0, after they completed a 95-run victory in the opening Test last Monday at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Australia have now won 13 of the last 14 Tests they have contested against West Indies and will seek to stamp their authority.

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 third and final Test between the two sides starts on June 12 at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

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