Ahmedabad, March 24: A brilliant century from Australian captain Ricky Ponting who played himself into form, took Australia to a moderately competitive total of 260/6 in their 50 overs. Australia appeared to be on course for a big total, reaching a healthy 116/2 in 25 overs. But then India pulled things back to get the wickets of Michael Clarke for 8 and Michael Hussey for 3, reducing Australia to 150/4 in 33.3 overs. However, a defiant stand between Ponting and David Hussey set their side back on the rails (gallery) (Scorecard).
Having reached 158/4 in 35 overs, Punter kept motoring along with Cameron White for company. In the 39th over, Ponting got stuck into Yuvraj, smashing him for a six and a four as the score moved onto 180/4. The runs were flowing with Ponting having struck form again, but there was trouble at the other end when Zaheer caught and bowled White for 12 off 22 balls. Australia were 190/5 in 41.2 overs.
But the new batsmen David Hussey, dissipated some of the pressure when he glanced Zaheer fine for four. Then in the 44th over, Ponting ran a single to bring up Australia's 200 and later in the over, Hussey got Zaheer away for two fours. The batting duo kept pushing for runs and in the 47th over, Hussey smashed Ashwin for a six.
Then in the 49th over, Ashwin got Ponting caught by Zhaaer at backward of point for 104 off 118 balls as the score read 245/6 in 48.3 overs. Some tight bowling at the death kept the Aussies to 260/6 at the end of 50 overs.
Australia's innings got off to a slightly circumspect start with Indian off-break R Ashwin opening the bowling alongside speedster Zaheer Khan. Shane Watson struck the first boundary off Ashwin at the end of the third over. Then the batsman got Zaheer away for another four in the last ball of the fourth and followed that up with one more four of Ashwin as Australia moved to 20/1 in 5 overs.
Soon afterward, Brad Haddin carted Ashwin for a six as both batsmen looked to have found their groove. But in the 10th over, Ashwin bowled Watson while the batsman was trying to sweep him. Watson was on his way for 25 off 38 and Australia were 40/1 in 10 overs with Ricky Ponting the new man at the crease. Haddin went after Munaf Patel in the 14 over, getting him away for three fours as the Aussies climbed to 65/1 in 14 overs.
Evidently aiming to play his way into form, Ponting unleashed a couple of powerful sweeps to the boundary off Yuvraj Singh in the 18th over as Australia climbed to 86/1. The same batsman then took a single off Yuvraj to bring up Australia 100 in the 21st over. Then Yuvraj had Haddin caught by Raina at cover for 53 and the Aussies had slipped to 110/2 in 22.5 overs.
Then in the 31st over, Yuvraj induced Clarke into a lofted shot which went straight into the hands of Zaheer Khan at deep midwicket. Clarke who had been struggling was on his way for 8 off 19 balls. Then just a couple of overs later with Zaheer brought back into the attack, he bowled Michael Hussey with a slower one for 3 as Australia slid to 150/4 in 33.3 overs. In the meantime, Ponting had brought up his half century. At the end of 35 overs, Australia were 158/4 with Cameron White and Ponting at the crease.