Cricket: Ponting, Clarke tons put Aussies on top

Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting put Australia in charge on day one. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting put Australia in charge on day one. Photo / Getty Images

Ricky Ponting went two years without a Test hundred and now the veteran has scored two in three innings in a strong response to speculation his best cricket is behind him.

The 37-year-old hit 137 not out on Tuesday's opening day of the fourth Test against India at Adelaide Oval to steer the home side to 3-335 at stumps, with skipper Michael Clarke scoring an unbeaten 140 on a flat batting track.

The 251-run stand between Clarke and Ponting was the pair's second huge stand of the series after adding 288 in Sydney, where Clarke scored an unbeaten 329.

Ponting's 41st century prompted a spirited waving of the bat to all parts of the ground and places the 162-Test veteran equal with South Africa's Jacques Kallis, trailing only India's Sachin Tendulkar (51).

"It just shows how much it means to him," Australian batting coach Justin Langer told ABC Radio.

And unlike his 134 in Sydney, this time Ponting played with more of the style and daring that has defined his career, hitting 13 boundaries in five-and-a-half hours in front of 21,480 fans.

Clarke's 19th hundred and fifth in 11 matches since becoming captain came off 133 balls.

The skipper was dropped at second slip by a diving VVS Laxman off Ishant Sharma's bowling on 133 in the first over with the second new ball.

Clarke was also given a life on 35 when a cut shot flew between second slip and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.

Using wonderfully quick footwork and batting for part of the day in his baggy green cap to the spinners, Clarke stroked 19 fours and one six from 188 deliveries.

Australia had raced to 98 at lunch for the loss of three wickets.

David Warner (eight) was lbw to paceman Zaheer Khan and Shaun Marsh was bowled between bat and pad for three, missing a straight one from offspinner Ravi Ashwin.

Ashwin also removed opener Ed Cowan (30), caught at cover.

Marsh's hesitant 12-ball display brings his tally for the series to 17 runs at an average of 3.40 and puts his immediate Test future at risk.

Australia lead the four-match series three-nil.

But the home side will be anxious to push on to a big total, having scored more than 500 in their first innings against India in Adelaide eight years ago and losing the match.

- AAP

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