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Ponting, Katich flay India after early shock

Published: Thursday, October 9, 2008, 14:51 [IST]
 
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BANGALORE:
Skipper Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich overcame the first-over dismissal of Matthew Hayden to lead Australia's fightback in the first cricket Test against India on Thursday.

The second-wicket pair, who came together without a run on the board, put on 166 for the second wicket in good batting conditions to lift the tourists to 166-2 by tea on the opening day.

Ponting set aside his disappointing average of 12.27 in eight previous Tests on Indian soil, to remain unbeaten on a well-crafted 94 at the break.

Left-handed Katich, who hit back-to-back centuries on the last Test tour of the West Indies earlier this year, provided able support with 66 before he was dismissed just before tea.

Katich poked at a ball outside the off-stump from seamer Ishant Sharma and walked away frustrated after the edge was easily taken by wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Michael Hussey had yet to open his account.

Ponting, who won the toss and elected to take first strike, has so far hit 12 boundaries in his highest knock in India, surpassing the 60 he made in Kolkata in 1998.

The Australian captain is playing his 200th Test innings, making him only the fourth batsman from his country after Allan Border and the Waugh brothers, Steve and Mark, to achieve the feat.

The four-match series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy began in dramatic fashion when Zaheer Khan had veteran Hayden caught behind with the third delivery of the match.

Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf took time to raise his finger as Hayden stood his ground, but television replays suggested a faint edge before the ball carried to Dhoni.

As Ponting and Katich settled down, India introduced spin in the 13th over in the form of off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, and skipper Anil Kumble himself came on with his leg-spin in the 18th.

But both batsmen were unruffled on the easy-paced wicket, Ponting reaching his 50 by driving Zaheer through the covers for his seventh boundary.

Australia left out off-spinner Jason Krejza from the 12 announced on Wednesday to give Victorian leg-spinner Cameron White his Test debut.

India went in with two seamers in Zaheer and Sharma and two spinners in Kumble and Harbhajan on a wicket that is expected to turn later in the match.

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