Cricket

Clarke, Ponting plunder India

2012-01-24 09:30
Michael Clarke (AP)

Adelaide - Australia's Ricky Ponting became only the third player in history to pass 13 000 Test runs on Tuesday as he and captain Michael Clarke put India to the sword in the final Test in Adelaide.

The resurgent Ponting posted his 41st Test century - his second in three innings - while Clarke raised his 19th Test ton, which follows an unbeaten triple hundred in the second Test in Sydney.

The experienced pair shared in a ground record fourth wicket partnership as Australia, chasing a 4-0 series whitewash, plundered the Indian attack to finish on 335/3.

At the close on a sweltering opening day, Ponting was unbeaten on 137 off 254 balls and Clarke 140 off 188 balls.

India, who lost their top Test ranking when they were crushed 4-0 in England last year, face their eighth consecutive away defeat if they fail to prevent another Australian victory this week.

Ponting and Clarke batted through the last two sessions of the day to add 251 runs together, following their stand of 288 in Sydney.

"I felt I played better today than I did in Sydney," Ponting said.

"It was probably a better wicket to bat on today, there wasn't much in it for any of the Indian bowlers.

"It's been a really good day for us and we have to make sure we win the first hour tomorrow and make sure this first innings is a big one."

To underline the gulf between the two sides, Australia's batsmen have posted six centuries in the series while India have still to register one.

Ponting, who went two years without a Test hundred before the Sydney knock, is the third batsman to reach the 13 000-run career milestone after Sachin Tendulkar (15 432) and Rahul Dravid (13 262) - both of whom were on the field when the former Australia skipper passed the mark.

India, looking to restore some pride after humiliating defeats in the first three Tests, enjoyed some early success with two wickets in the first 10 overs before Ponting and Clarke wore them down on a typically flat Adelaide batting strip.

Adelaide is a happy hunting ground for Ponting, who has now scored six of his 41 Test hundreds in the City of Churches, including a knock of 242.

Clarke, who scored an unbeaten 329 in the second Sydney Test earlier this month, gave two chances, on 50 and 133, both off Ishant Sharma.

India removed David Warner (8) and Shaun Marsh (3) cheaply in the opening 10 overs and Ed Cowan (30) nearing lunch.

Warner, who smashed a 69-ball century on the way to a swashbuckling 180 in the third Test win in Perth, only lasted 23 balls before he was trapped leg before wicket by Zaheer Khan.

He was followed by Marsh, who again fell cheaply, lasting only 12 balls before he was bowled by a straightened delivery from off-spinner Ravi Ashwin.

Marsh did nothing to dispel doubts over his Test career and has scored just 17 runs in five innings in the series batting at number three.

Cowan looked to have done all the hard work in his 110 minutes at the crease before he was caught low down in the covers by Laxman for Ashwin's second wicket 10 minutes before lunch.

Stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag was proactive with his bowling changes in the morning session, wheeling in Ashwin in the fourth over of the innings and was rewarded with Marsh's wicket in the spinner's fourth over.

"I think it was really good batting by Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, they really took the game away from us in the second session," Ashwin said.

Sehwag also bowled his offbreaks in tandem with Ashwin in the first session of the Test before he was guilty of allowing the game to drift.

The opening batsman was deputising for skipper M.S. Dhoni, who is suspended for slow over rates.

Read more on:    michael clarke  |  ricky ponting
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