Feroz Khan/Zeenews Sports
Adelaide: On a batsmen friendly pitch, Australia wrested back the initial advantage from the Indians as they finished with 335/3 on the first day of the Adelaide Test on Tuesday.
Ricky Ponting (137*) and Michael Clarke (140*) were on the crease at stumps as they forged a partnership of 251 runs to pile misery on the Indians who are in search of an elusive win on Australian shores this summer.
The bowlers and fielders toiled hard to find any further loophole in their batting order. R Ashwin, who came back in place of R Vinay for the Test, took two wickets while Zaheer picked one.
Ishant Sharma, as has been the case in the previous three Tests, was a bit unfortunate as Sehwag’s erroneous field settings led to a crucial missed chance at first slip when Clarke’s edge flew bisecting the second slip and keeper when he was on 35.
Ricky Ponting, who looked in trouble when facing spinners during his visits to the subcontinent, looked at ease against Ashwin, showing he has worked on his technique. His initial overtures were potent enough to signal that the Tasmanian was in better touch than at Sydney where he scored a century in 18 months.
He began the proceedings with a typical straight drive off Umesh Yadav, who looked out of sorts on the opening day as he gave away too many runs.
Ponting was in fine nick as he drove, glanced and pulled his way to a half century in just 69 deliveries. As the game progressed, the run flow became smoother as he had Michael Clarke at the other end who too completed a ton to wrest back the initial advantage that Indians gained in the morning session.
Of the two, Clarke was the more aggressive one as he hit 19 boundaries and a six towards long on to provide the impetus to accelerate the Australian innings on a scorching day that saw an attendance of 21480.
Bowler’s make early inroads
The start of the morning session saw Michael Clarke winning the toss and electing to bat on a pitch that is conducive to batting. His openers, seemed headed in the right direction as they milked the first two overs for 16 runs.
Stand-in captain, Virender Sehwag brought off-spinner R Aswhin early in the fourth over and the move worked positively for the visitors as his first two overs were maidens. Zaheer on the other end saw this as an opportunity.
The left arm pacer provided the early breakthrough in the seventh over for India as he trapped Perth Test’s hero David Warner in front of the wickets to pick his and India’s first wicket. Warner could manage eight runs during his stay at the crease.
His departure saw out of form Shaun Marsh walking in and the southpaw would have been fancying his chances on a track that had favoured batsmen in the past.
However, his miserable form continued as he misjudged the line of a straight Ashwin delivery that rattled his stumps. Evidently, Marsh was surprised and it took a while for him to realise what turned out.
In came Ponting, who then took the Australian total past 50 run mark.
However, some intelligent bowling from R Ashwin saw grafter Ed Cowan playing one towards cover where VVS Laxman took a good low catch to send the lefty back to the pavilion.
There wasn’t much movement for the bowlers in the morning. Indian bowlers barring Umesh Yadav bowled superbly on a placid wicket to keep the Australians from scoring freely till lunch when they were 98/3.
Ponting, Clarke rebuild Aus innings
After the early setbacks, the duo combined to lead Australian charge as they collected 116 runs in the second session.
The bowlers who looked fresh and eager before lunch and the fielders who were agile began exhibiting signs of wearing down. A greater share of this goes to the Australian pair who picked their rhythm soon afterwards and began finding boundaries frequently.
Ponting first reached the milestone of 13000 Test runs and then completed his 41st ton and second of the series on his favourite hunting ground against the Indians. This was his fifth such effort against India at Adelaide.
Michael Clarke then reached his 19th Test ton with back to back boundaries off Umesh Yadav to pile the misery on Indian bowlers. During his innings of 140*, he also went passed 500 run mark for the first time in a Test series as well.
In the 58th over, as runs start leaking too easily, Indians looked desperate enough to appeal against Clarke for obstructing the field.
Clarke played Kohli towards square leg and set off for a quick single. The throw from the fielder ricocheted off his bat at the non striker’s end following which Kohli appealed for obstruction.
As per the new rule, a batsman can be given out for changing course while taking a run designed to block a throw. HDPK Dharmasena after discussing with the TV umpire termed it as not out.
Same old story
For Indians, it was the same old story as they let the Australians off the hook too soon after being on the top in the first session of the day.
They lacked the intensity as the wicket became easier for batting. Sehwag too, committed mistakes in his field settings. His refusal to take the new ball that was indicative of their intent of seeing through the rest of the overs. Eventually the new bal lwas taken in the 86th over.The Australians took advantage of this and raced past 300 runs in no time.