The Australians were going to cap their 402nd Test cricketer today and the choice was between Cameron White and Jason Krejza. Before the start of their warm-up session the players gathered in a circle, along with the coaching staff and chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch, and White was presented with the baggy green. The baggy green is a really big deal so White, who was visibly thrilled, wore his new head gear through the warm-up session while the others had their VB caps on.
Matthew Hayden is Australia's best batsmen in Indian conditions and his preparation for this series has been intense. He's batted in the nets longer than others and went through his routine of shadow-practicing and meditating on the pitch at the Chinnaswamy stadium on the eve of the match. However, when the Test began, he was dismissed the first time he hit the ball. Or did he? After letting two deliveries from Zaheer go past his off stump, he pushed forward at the third as the ball moved away from him. The ball was close to the outside edge. The bat was close to the pad. Asad Rauf took a while but eventually ended Hayden's all too brief stint.
Harbhajan v Ponting. Harbhajan had bowled 2.3 overs before Ponting faced him for the first time. Anticipation built up in the crowd, Anil Kumble added a silly point to the existing close-in catchers - short leg and first slip, and kites hovered overhead. The big screen even flashed a timely message: "Ponting has been dismissed by Harbhajan eight times in Test cricket." Harbhajan skipped in and delivered but his first challenge was weak: a flat ball on leg stump. Ponting moved back and nudged the ball off his pads towards the fine-leg boundary.
There was no time that Ponting looked more like the batsman who has dominated attacks everywhere in the world but India than when he brought up his half-century with a superb cover drive. Things went relatively smoothly for him as he changed gears regularly during his knock, but the effortless way he reached only his second half-century in India was outstanding. Zaheer Khan pitched up and Ponting swung through the line as the ball cracked twice - first off the bat, then off an advertising board.
One of Australia's strategies was to pressurise the Indian fielders with quick running between the wickets. So when Simon Katich glanced Kumble towards long leg, they immediately decided on taking two. Sehwag was the fielder and he surprised many, perhaps even Katich who was forced into a full length dive, with a direct hit from the boundary. Rauf called for the third umpire but Katich was so confident he had made his ground that he even picked up the uprooted stump and put it back in its place, ready to continue hurrying the Indian fielders.
Katich had scored only 3 off the first 34 balls he faced from Harbhajan, content with blocking and thwarting India's plans. However, Harbhjan offered him two freebies when Katich was in his forties. The first was short and wide and Katich cut it wide of slip for four and moved on to 49. A ball later he drove a half-volley firmly through cover to bring up his half-century and emphasise that Australia had made the right choice by picking him as opener.
Ponting celebrated his first century in India while completing his third run before flourishing his bat like a warrior would with a sword. Not only had he kept his vow of improving his average in India, but he had also broken a record. The century was Ponting's 16th as captain, he was previously tied with Steve Waugh and Allan Border on 15.