Patient Ponting lays foundation

Australian skipper is mainstay in two half-century partnerships on his way to 77 as tourists reach 285-5 in second Test.

    Ponting played a steady innings to set the tourists on their way to a good first-inning total in Bangalore [AFP]

    Captain Ricky Ponting top-scored with a resolute 77 as Australia recovered from a wobbly afternoon session to reach 285 for five on the opening day of the second and final Test against India.

    Australia, 1-0 down in the series, appeared to have squandered a perfect start when they lost three wickets for 33 runs after lunch in Bangalore.

    Ponting then featured in two half-century partnerships with Mike Hussey and Marcus North before the skipper fell in the 76th over on Saturday.

    North was unbeaten on 43 and Tim Paine eight not out when bad light stopped play for the day.

    Opener Shane Watson said Australia would have been in a stronger position had Ponting not been removed.

    "It would have been nice to be four down ... that was really a big wicket, he was batting so beautifully," said Watson.

    "It's a good batting wicket and you need to make the most of it. The match is now pretty even."

    Slow track

    Earlier, Ponting's decision to bat first on a slow track was vindicated when the in-form Watson, with 57, put on 99 for the first wicket with Simon Katich (43).

    Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh removed Katich in the first over after lunch and followed up by dismissing Michael Clarke for 14.

    In between, spin colleague Pragyan Ojha cut short Watson's stay when keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni collected an edge behind the stumps.

    Watson, who also scored 126 and 56 in the first Test in Mohali, hit nine fours in a fluent knock.

    Ponting and Hussey overcame some early jitters to add 66 runs for the fourth wicket and rebuild the innings.

    Seamer Zaheer Khan had Hussey caught by Virender Sehwag but Ponting kept going until Suresh Raina trapped him leg before to end a 58-run fifth-wicket stand.

    "Watson and Katich batted beautifully in the morning but we got back in the game with those three wickets after lunch," said Sehwag.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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