Ricky Ponting finally found his groove © Getty Images
 

It took Ricky Ponting seven matches to finally stand up. Wounded and pushed into a corner by spirited opponents through the series, Ponting had earlier tried, in vain, to graft his way out of trouble. But at the SCG, on one of the truest batting pitches of the series, he broke free playing his own game. Not only did it bring him a century, but also a lesson to his young opponents.

Having made Ponting sweat throughout the summer, Ishant Sharma had earned the right to believe he had the wood on the Australian captain. But on Sunday, as the Australian batsmen targetted him, his length became short and the line wide; Ponting got going, pulling and driving.

Ponting's first shot was a push between cover and point, and he ran three. Two fours came in one over off Sreesanth, and when he pulled Irfan Pathan high over midwicket for six it was clear his lost confidence was back. The strokes carried power, but more significantly was the assurance with which bat met ball - it carried the same nonchalant touch that has elevated Ponting to becoming one of the best batsmen of his generation.

His innings had a fluent pattern. The initial runs came at a brisk pace, peppered with boundaries. The runs dried up as India regrouped with more intensity in the field - no boundaries were scored between overs 10-19 - but Ponting was happy stealing the singles, twos and threes. He sustained the momentum throughout his knock.

So far it was Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey, who had been carrying out the repair job for Australia after the top-order collapses but on Sunday, Ponting not only regained his own form but admirably subdued the opposition and built partnerships to keep Australia well ahead.

Ponting was more than happy to be back in the runs. "It's been a long time coming," a relieved Ponting said after the match. The Australian captain felt the wicket was the best the teams had played on so far in the tournament. "So it was good for all three of us [Hayden, Andrew Symonds and himself] to settle in and get back to form." Ponting's 124 equalled his highest score at the SCG.

He himself might be surprised at the quality of his innings in comparison to the one against Sri Lanka at the MCG two days earlier, where he had fidgeted around listlessly for 33 deliveries before getting out in a comical fashion. But the best don't believe in procrastination. "I was a bit more conscious about being more positive today."

With Symonds finding his touch with a robust 59, and Hayden giving an explosive start, Ponting will hope Australia's batsmen regain the edge with which they slice apart the opposition. Luckily for them, Ponting is back sharpening his blade.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo