Ponting off to flying start
Australia captain scores century to ensure confident start to first test.
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2008 13:19 GMT

Ponting breaks his poor Indian form [AFP]
Australia captain Ricky Ponting scored his 36th test century, but his team lost a wicket in the final over of the opening day to finish at 254 for four wickets in the first test.

Ponting controlled proceedings throughout his innings of 123, his first hundred in India, that took him past former India captain Sunil Gavaskar into sixth place on the test run-scoring list with 10,222.

Simon Katich provided support with 66 at Chinnaswamy Stadium and Mike Hussey chipped in with 46 not out.

Hayden dismissed

Zaheer Khan took a wicket in the first and last overs of the day, having opener Matthew Hayden caught by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 0 and then dismissing Michael Clarke for 11 with the second new ball.

Ponting started the match determined to make up for a poor record in India, having previously scored just 172 runs from eight tests in the country over 12 years.

After winning the toss, he came to the wicket early after Hayden was out on the third ball of the innings.

Poor decision

Hayden, returning from a heel injury that kept him out of the West Indies tour, brushed his pad with his bat but appeared to miss the ball.

He remained at the crease for a short time after the decision from umpire Asad Rauf.

Ponting, whose previous best score in India was 60 in 1998, showed his class in a partnership of 166 with Katich.

The captain struck 13 boundaries, the best being a cover drive to bring up his half-century, in 243 balls.

Positive step

"I've been working really hard," Ponting said.

"I've made no secret of it, my record here has been poor.

"Today is one step in the right direction.

"It was nice to get some runs out there and put the team in a good position.

"But one innings doesn't make a tour."

Big celebration

Shortly after tea, he reached three figures with a push behind point off Anil Kumble and celebrated by swinging his bat, pumping his arms and acknowledging the Australian dressing room and the few visiting supporters in the stands.

There were moments of trouble for Ponting.

He was struck on his pads a couple of times by Ishant Sharma, who also forced a nasty inside edge when the Australian was on 78.

Kumble was convinced Ponting should have been out caught-and-bowled on 111, but umpire Rudi Koertzen disagreed after consulting with Rauf.

Big appeal for Katich [GALLO/GETTY]
Big appeal

India's captain also appealed furiously for lbw when Ponting was 116, although the ball appeared to be heading over the stumps.

One of Ponting's main concerns before the match was offspinner Harbhajan Singh, who had dismissed him eight times previously.

He glanced his first ball from Harbhajan to the fine-leg boundary and showed few signs of discomfort until his exit.

Two lofted fours off the bowler to mid-wicket were among his best shots, along with an off-drive from Kumble to move to 99.

Harbhajan hunt

Late in the day, Harbhajan dismissed Ponting for a ninth time with a contentious lbw decision that left Australia on 226-3.

Hussey and Clarke almost made it to stumps, but Clarke fell lbw to Khan's ultimately final ball of the day.

Good day

"It has been a pretty good day for us," Ponting said.

"One for none after three balls, I was out there early, and we managed to consolidate throughout the day.

"We lost two wickets late in the day, which was a bit disappointing for us, but overall we're in a pretty good position."

Katich, who replaced Phil Jaques as Hayden's opening partner, was cautious before lunch but started to expand his stroke-play in the second session.

His 50 came from 122 deliveries with an off-side boundary from Harbhajan.

 Ishant Sharma celebrates a wicket [GALLO/GETTY]
Sharma consistent

India rotated all four of its specialist bowlers, but Sharma was the only one to create regular bouts of discomfort for the batsmen.

He was finally rewarded when he removed Katich off an edge to Dhoni shortly before tea.

Khan had the best figures of 2-39, while Sharma collected 1-49 and Harbhajan 1-71.

Sharma happy

Sharma was happier with India's position following Khan's removal of Clarke.

"After the last wicket, (the day) got much better," Sharma said.

"It was a slow wicket and it wasn't easy to bowl on.

"You need patience to bowl on this pitch. It's not in our favour but neither is it in theirs."

Reuters boycott

Events in India were overshadowed by Reuters who have boycotted all press coverage of the first test due to an ongoing accreditation dispute with the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

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