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Ponting's 30th ODI ton takes Australia to 260/6

Thursday March 24, 2011 08:03:21 PM, IANS

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Ahmedabad: Skipper Ricky Ponting roared back into form, cracking a timely century, as defending champions Australia set India a highly competitive 261-run target to win the cricket World Cup quarterfinal here Thursday.

Ponting, who came in for heavy criticism for scoring just 102 runs in his last five innings, showed true grit and determination during his 118-ball 104, his 30th ODI hundred, to pull the four-time World champions out from a precarious 150 for four to a healthy 260 for six at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera.

It was the Australian skipper's second successive World Cup century against India and it contained seven fours and a six.

Ponting and David Hussey (38 not out) added a valuable 55 runs for the sixth wicket after India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan (2-53) and left-arm spinner Yuvraj Singh (2-44) struck in tandem to wreck the middle-order. The Australians made the best use of the batting Powerplay (44th-48th overs), scoring 44 runs.

India started the proceedings with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (2-52) prompting a watchful start from Australian openers Brad Haddin (53) and Shane Watson (25), with only 19 runs coming off the first five overs.

The two soon broke the shackles, Watson whipping Zaheer for a four past the short-midwicket and in the next over, Haddin chipping Ashwin for a six over long-on. Ashwin struck in the 10th over to castle Watson to end the 40-run opening stand.

Ponting and Haddin then added 70 runs for the second wicket before Yuvraj dismissed the Australian wicketkeeper with a nicely tossed-up delivery and Suresh Raina made no mistake, taking the catch diving forward. The dismissal triggered a mini-collapse as Haddin, Michael Clarke (8) and Mike Hussey (3) departed quickly to reduce Australia from 110-1 to 150-4.

With the pitch assisting the spinners, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the 30th over tossed the ball to batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who bowled after 14 matches. Tendulkar, who last bowled in an ODI in 2009, also against Australia in Guwahati, got some sharp turn and was greeted by the Motera crowd with a big cheer.

The first two balls were wayward and both Clarke and Ricky Ponting picked easy singles. The third one was an absolute beauty. It pitched outside legstump and spun back sharply right past the face of the bat of a flummoxed Clarke.

Tendulkar's over did impact the Australians as in the next over, Clarke in his attempt to hit Yuvraj against the turn, gave a catch to Zaheer Khan in the deep.

Ponting then lost Mike Hussey, bowled by a slower Zaheer delivery, and Cameron White, caught and bowled by the left-arm seamer. The Australian skipper found in David Hussey the right partner to get going in the slog overs.

Ponting's innings came to an end soon after the batting Powerplay when he, perhaps for the first time, attempted a reverse sweep. He connected it all right but hit it straight to Zaheer Khan for a comfortable catch.

 

 

 

 

 

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