Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 1st day January 24, 2012

Ponting and Clarke demoralise India again


Australia 3 for 335 (Clarke 140*, Ponting 137*) v India
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Michael Clarke knew when he won the toss that this Adelaide Oval pitch would be perfect for batting. As the team's No.5, he wasn't expecting to be in before lunch. When he and Ricky Ponting came together in the opening session, Australia were 3 for 84. It wasn't quite precarious, but nor was it secure. By stumps, they were 3 for 335. Clarke and Ponting both had hundreds. It was Australia Day, 48 hours early.

On a day when the temperature hit 37C, the Indians were down on energy and, by stumps, they were down on hope. The series was already lost, but this match was a chance to regain some respect. For a session, it appeared they were going to do that. Of course, if the pitch remains this good, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Co might also fill their boots, but first they'll need to get through Australia.

Already the Ponting-Clarke partnership had swollen to 251, and was reminiscent of their 288-run stand at the SCG earlier this month. That partnership was followed by an even better triple-century stand between Clarke and Michael Hussey. The captain MS Dhoni was unable to find a way to break through that combination, and he might have been glad of his suspension for slow over rates as he watched Sehwag struggle with a similar scenario in Adelaide.

Not that India didn't have their chances. On 36, Clarke chased a wide delivery from Ishant Sharma and edged to where first slip should have been, but Sehwag had the fielder floating at second slip instead. So early in an Adelaide Test it was a strange field setting. Not long after, Sehwag removed the slips entirely. How he intended to find a wicket was anyone's guess.

Shortly before stumps, Ishant again found the edge against Clarke, on 133 at the time, with the second new ball. This time there were two slips in, but VVS Laxman at second could not cling on diving to his right. It would be understandable to be exhausted in mind and body at the end of a long, hot day, but India simply needed every half-chance to be taken.

By the close, Clarke was on 140 and had overtaken Ponting, who flew out of the blocks before settling in throughout the afternoon and went to stumps on 137. It was Ponting's second century of the series, and unless he makes a surprise retirement announcement, he will be on the plane to the West Indies for Australia's next Test tour in April.

It was apparent from the start of his innings that Ponting was in vintage touch. He played three classic Ponting strokes, a punchy straight drive, a searing pull and a back-foot drive through the off side. All were perfectly timed and all ran away to the boundary, and after lunch the runs kept coming with lofts off the spinners, crunchy drives and ones and twos that kept the scoreboard ticking over.

He settled in to his rhythm and passed 13,000 Test runs, the third man behind Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid to reach the mark, but a subdued bat-raise and handshake with Clarke was all that the milestone brought. As far as Ponting was concerned, plenty of work lay ahead. He brought up his hundred with a boundary cut behind point off Zaheer Khan from his 164th ball, and this time he did celebrate.

At the other end, Clarke was already catching up, having taken to the offspin of R Ashwin. He brought up his fifty with a lofted boundary over mid-on off Ashwin, and followed with three boundaries in another Ashwin over, all through the off side, as runs flowed easily for the Australians. Clarke's century arrived from his 133rd delivery with a steer to the third-man boundary off Umesh Yadav, who had a horror day and finished with 0 for 87 off 12 overs.

Clarke's innings was all the more impressive given the situation when he came to the crease shortly before lunch. Early in the day's play, Sehwag showed some tactical nous by introducing Ashwin within the first 15 minutes. His intention was to keep a check on David Warner, who had launched Umesh Yadav back over his head for an all-run four in the second over of the game.

Warner was keen to go after the fast men but was more hesitant against the spin, and while it was the Zaheer Khan who trapped Warner lbw for 8, Sehwag's move had ensured Warner stayed quiet. Ashwin added a breakthrough of his own when he pushed a ball through the big gap between bat and pad left by Shaun Marsh, who was anticipating spin and missed a straight one.

The ball clipped his off stump and Marsh was out for 3, continuing his horror series and perhaps giving John Inverarity's selection panel an easy decision when Shane Watson returns from injury. Marsh's Test scores since returning from a back injury now read 0, 3, 0, 11, 3. From either side, only Nathan Lyon is averaging less with the bat than Marsh this series.

After Marsh departed, Ponting and Ed Cowan steadied with a 53-run partnership, both men keen to keep the scoreboard ticking, but a lapse in concentration on 30 ended Cowan's innings. He drove Ashwin straight to short cover and it was a soft dismissal, especially coming as it did within a quarter of an hour of the lunch break, on a pitch promising plenty of runs.

After lunch, Ponting and Clarke showed Cowan what he was missing. And they showed India how hard it would be to finish the Test series with a consolation win.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on January 25, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    @Whale_Fart - LOL! Didn't read anything of what you said, just love the handle, LOL!

  • michael on January 25, 2012, 6:37 GMT


  • Andrew on January 25, 2012, 5:49 GMT

    @SydneyIndi- it is also clear that you haven't read ANY of the reasons given over the last couple of months as to what has gone in Perth. The pitch was relaid about 8 years ago. Got that? Okay, in those first few years the pitch was sluggish & there was no cracking up of the pitch. It did not behave like a WACA pitch of old. India were lucky (outplayed Oz) that they enjoyed the experience of playing on one of the slowest WACA pitches ever, a pitch that afforded Sth Africa a record 4th innings run chase a year or so later. The WACA has been re-sown with an emphasis on getting it back to the way it was. It was GREEN 3 days prior, but after being shaved & baked in the hot sun, was NOT a green top! Sydney also was relaid after a couple of decades of almost sub-continent features. It now resembles the SCG of the late 1950s according to Richie Benaud when it use to be one of the fastest pitches in Oz! No HINT of doctoring anywhere buddy, you need to be a bit more observant before you speak!

  • Andrew on January 25, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    @BigGeorgeMehemood - love your test ratings, I could live with that!!!!

  • Andrew on January 25, 2012, 5:39 GMT

    @SydneyIndi on (January 25 2012, 03:35 AM GMT - LOL! For starters Oz BEAT England at the WACA last year during the Ashes! SECONDLY, the GABBA is one of the FASTEST pitches in the world. THIRDLY Belreive (Hobart) was just about the greenest pitch anybody has ever seen! FOURTHLY - NOWHERE did I say that NZ played at the WACA!

  • Vas on January 25, 2012, 3:57 GMT

    Hi Imad_K. Yes both will score 400 + . Check the score. They may also keep India in the field for all 5 days. Just for a laugh!

  • Roo on January 25, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    @Nampally... Completely agree - where is Ojha?... No matter who won the toss India needed 2 specialist spinners in this team... So far Sehwag has put up very unusual fields & used Inshant poorly at the beginning of the innings - same as Dhoni did in Perth... Sehwag is bowling himself to get the over-rate up, where as Ojha would have been going for wickets... Poor selection process & just average captaincy... Re: Yadav - when Bracewell 'lost it' when bowling against Oz, the captain Taylor went up & talked to him, then supported him by standing at mid-off & encouraging him - Bracewell turned it around & the rest is history...

  • Vas on January 25, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    Thank you for your comments 'Meety'. With respect, being a 'MOST PURE cricket fan', you need to get your facts straight. NZ played in Habart & Brisbane not in WACA. Both Brisbane & Hobart were slower pitches not greentops! In SCG India did play well in to 4th day and yes there was no spin even on the 4th day! Indeed WACA wasn't a greentop when you lost to England last year. Do you still hold the same views after this Mr MOST PURE cricket fan?

  • Ram on January 25, 2012, 2:00 GMT

    There is no fun in cricket with this level of disparity. They might as well play with the school kids and call themselves world class. This Indian team is more then pathetic. I guess, youngster in India would be excited with this performance, they will get some calls now to play for India. This is worst ever I have seen after early 80s for India. Another inning defeat in progress.

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2012, 1:55 GMT

    A world number one team being battered four times in a row … Indian selectors will never learn. They are blind to see that the team's bowling is completely in disarray. For a test, it is important to have spin and India's only hope is Harbhajan - and how he is left out after 3 complete wash outs. The only hope for India is Australia to make a declaration and their top order Schwag, Gambir Dravid, Tendulkar put up a show …

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