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Ponting guides Australia towards healthy total

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Ricky Ponting BangaloreAustralia finished at 285 for 5 in 85.5 overs on the opening day’s play of the Second Test at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Skipper Ricky Ponting came good to score a well controlled 77 (from 147 balls with 12 fours) to keep the innings together before getting out in the final session.

The toss was once again won by the visitors and they elected to bat first on what was a bald pitch which was on the slower side and taking quite a lote of turn. The conditions remained overcast but there was no rain interruption throughout the day’s play. India made three changes with Murali Vijay, debutant Cheteshwar Pujara and Sreesanth replacing Gautam Gambhir, VVS Laxman and Ishant Sharma respectively. Australia made one change with debutant quick Peter George coming in for the injured Doug Bollinger.

Aussies got off to a wonderful start despite the bowling being good. The first session was a dry one for the hosts as the Aussies finished at 95 for 0 in 27 overs. Watson was at his best notching up a fifty while Katich was his usual scratching around the crease.

After Lunch, India finally found the much needed luck and three wickets going down meant that the Aussies were under severe pressure. Simon Katich (43 from 95 balls with 7 fours) fell in the first over after the break edging a cut shot to Dravid to a turning off break from Harbhajan Singh. Nearly seven overs after that Shane Watson (57 from 88 balls with 9 fours) got a ripping turner from Pragyan Ojha which took the splice of the blade and was caught behind by MS Dhoni. And again after nearly seven overs, one more wicket went down with Michael Clarke (14 from 26 balls) stabbing an over spin delivery from Harbhajan towards Raina at backward squareleg.

Australia slipped to 132 for 3 from a solid position of 99 for 0! They would have been 132 for 4 but Hussey got away with a edge in the very first ball he faced after Clarke’s exit but the ball fell wide of silly point. A promising partnership followed after that between Ponting and Hussey which took Australia to 189 for 3 in 57 overs.

The post Tea session saw Australia’s chances of getting to a big first innings total crash because of the wickets of Hussey and Ponting! Michael Hussey (34 from 45 balls with 4 fours) departed soon after Tea, shaping up to drive on the up to a wide revering away swinger from Zaheer Khan to be well caught at gully by Sehwag. Ponting ended up giving a Test Wicket to Suresh Raina’s part time off breaks! Well set on 77 (from 147 balls with 12 fours), Ponting missed in connecting a flick shot after falling right across the stumps to get lbw and leave Australia wobbling again at 256 for 5.

By Stumps, Marcus North perhps playing for his career remained unbeaten on 43 (from 89 balls) along with Wicket Keeper Tim Paine who is on 8. Bad light stopped play at around 4:37 PM and that was just when Zaheer Khan had taken the second new ball. The bowling from India could have been better especially from Harbhajan Singh who unusually dragged quite a few deliveries way too short and was punished for 100 runs in just 26 overs. Pragyan Ojha was slightly on the fuller side but managed to come up with tidy figures of 1 for 63 in 25 overs. MS Dhoni took the gamble of giving away easy singles but giving high priority to ensure that there were not too many boundaries.