2nd Test: Aus reach 285/5 on Day 1

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Bangalore, 09 October 2010: Australian captain Ricky Ponting hit a gutsy 77 to steer his faltering team out of trouble on the opening day of the second and final Test against India on Saturday. Ponting’s 54th half-century helped the tourists survive a middle-order collapse to reach 285-5 by stumps in front of 20,000 boisterous home fans at the Chinnaswamy stadium. Marcus North was unbeaten on 43 and wicket-keeper Tim Paine was on eight when bad light halted play 4.1 overs early.


Australia are seeking a series-levelling win after they lost the dramatic first Test in Mohali by one wicket. Shane Watson and Simon Katich gave the tourists a flying start with an opening stand of 99 after Ponting won the toss and elected to bat in overcast conditions. Watson hit 57, his third successive half-century in the series, and Katich made 43 on a moisture-laden wicket that afforded movement to the seamers and turn for the spinners.


India’s spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha turned the tables in the post-lunch session, grabbing three wickets for 33 runs as Australia stumbled to 132-3. Ponting led his team’s revival by adding 66 for the fourth wicket with Michael Hussey (34) and 58 for the fifth with North. Ponting, who hit 12 boundaries, was dismissed in the final session when he missed a straight ball from part-time spinner Suresh Raina and was declared leg-before.



Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni enjoyed a mixed day in the field after losing his 10th successive toss in Test cricket. Watson, who scored 126 and 56 in the first Test, made light of the heavy conditions to build on his good form with nine boundaries. He began by smashing two consecutive fours in seamer S Sreesanth’s first over and glided the other new-ball bowler Zaheer Khan for two boundaries to third man.


Left-hander Katich was content to play second fiddle, helping himself to six fours by lunch. Katich fell in the first over after resumption when, having hit the third ball from Harbhajan for a boundary, he edged the fifth to Rahul Dravid at first slip. Watson departed seven overs later when he attempted to cut left-arm spinner Ojha and edged a sharp catch to Dhoni behind the stumps.


Michael Clarke, who hit a century on debut at the same venue in 2004, made 14 when he edged Harbhajan to short-leg where Raina dived to his left to take a low catch. Hussey’s defiant stand with Ponting ended in the second over after tea when he was caught at gully by Virender Sehwag off Zaheer. Ponting reached his half-century by steering Harbhajan through third man for his eighth four and celebrated the landmark with a ferocious pull two balls later for another boundary.


Earlier, India’s VVS Laxman was ruled out of the Test after failing to recover fully from back spasms suffered during his match-winning knock of 73 not out at Mohali. Laxman was replaced by debutant Cheteshwar Pujara, while opener Murali Vijay and Sreesanth came in for the injured duo of Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma. Australia awarded a Test cap to lanky fast bowler Peter George, who replaced the injured Doug Bollinger.



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