Clarke, Ponting tons drive Aus

2012-01-04 07:35

Sydney - Ricky Ponting hit his first Test century in two years and Michael Clarke reached his highest Test score as Australia took an iron grip on the second Sydney Test against India on Wednesday.

Ponting, 37, gave the perfect riposte to those calling for his retirement with a dogged 134 in a partnership of 288 runs for a burgeoning 158-run lead over the dispirited tourists at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

At tea on the second day, Australia were 349 for four with Clarke unconquered on 170 and Mike Hussey not out on eight.

Ponting took off for a single on 99 to mid-on and dived full length to make his ground as Zaheer Khan's throw narrowly whistled past the stumps at the bowler's end 20 minutes after lunch.

The former skipper climbed off the ground, his shirt covered in dirt, smiling broadly and with his bat raised to mark his first hundred in 34 Test innings – his last being 209 against Pakistan in Hobart in January 2010.

It was his 40th Test century, his seventh against India and sixth at the SCG where he is also the leading all-time Test run-getter with 1 480.

Ponting was finally out shortly before tea when he sliced to Sachin Tendulkar in the gully off Ishant Sharma. He batted for 335 minutes, faced 225 balls and hit 14 fours.

Clarke brought up his 18th Test century and fourth against India with a glorious cover drive off Sharma in the last over before lunch.

It was Clarke's second Test century of the Australian summer season after scoring 139 against New Zealand in Brisbane last month.

The Australian skipper went on to pass his highest Test score of 168, scored against New Zealand in Wellington in March 2010.

It was the only wicket to fall on a dominant day for Australia, building a huge lead over India, who were paying for their mediocre 191 first innings on Tuesday's opening day.

Clarke and Ponting came together with Australia at a shaky 37 for three and have put the home team in a strong position to force a result.

India have never won a Test series in Australia and trail the home side in the four-Test series after a comprehensive 122-run defeat in last week's opening Melbourne Test.