India’s chances of regaining some pride in the fourth and final test in Australia took a serve beating on the first day in Adelaide as Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke both posted dominating centuries.
The pair ensured the day belonged to the hosts as they helped Australia to a commanding 335-3 by stumps.
With speculation once again amounting over whether or not Ponting will be calling it a day on his career, the former captain answered his critics with his second hundred in three games. On the other side Clarke continued his fine form with the bat as he posted his fifth century in only twelve games as captain, and followed up his triple century in Sydney.
The Indian bowlers can be forgiven for thinking that this was Sydney all over again as they went through two whole sessions without picking up a wicket that saw an un-beaten 251 partnership develop. To make matters worse, India now faces the task of picking up seven more wickets on a track that promises to make batting easier, while also keeping the runs down.
Ponting looked the best he has since relinquishing the captaincy, and with having broken his century drought in Sydney, was well on his way to yet another ton. Crisp driving down the ground and trademark swivelling pull shots were the highlights of the man’s innings. Just to stamp his authority on the game Ponting brought up the landmark with a classy glide between the gully and point fielder. Having brought up his century Ponting seemed determined to make it count as he settled down to play more test like innings close out the day on 137 not out.
Clarke was at his flamboyant best in his knock illustrating none of the pressures that seemed to have haunted his predecessor as captain. Using his feet against the spinners and driving off the back-foot against the fast bowlers were as much a testament to his form as it was to the poor bowling shown by the Indians. Consecutive boundaries saw Clarke bring up his third century of the summer, and his fifth as captain.
For the Indian bowlers there was little to cheer about after lunch as they were forced to toil in 35 degree desert heat against two batsmen who looked like they were having a net session. Prior to lunch many spectators were treated to a match that was evenly contested. The visitors were able to pry out the early wickets of David Warner and Shaun Marsh to grab the advantage. Ponting and Ed Cowan combined to wrestle back some initiative before Ravichandran Ashwin removed the left-hander opener.
Sadly for the visitors that were all they had to cheer about as the bowlers lacked not only confidence but also discipline and even a sense effort. Umesh Yadav, the lone shining light for the Indians this series, was badly off the mark returning figures of 12 over for 87 runs. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma were miserly without every looking dangerous. Ashwin was used sparingly on a day that saw the stand in skipper, Virender Sehwag, bowl 13 overs. Neither of the spinners looked to be of any danger to either of the set players.
With still four days to go in the match India will know that they have to lift up their efforts early on day 2 if they hope to claw their way back in to the contest. Australia will be hoping for much of the same if they wish to inflict yet another overseas white wash on the Indians.