The Adelaide Oval is a ground steeped in tradition. When you make your way through the turnstiles, you're greeted by ushers with trilby hats, smartly attired in red shirts, ties and black trousers from a seemingly different era. As soon as you enter the venue, you see 80-year-old hawkers distributing complimentary copies of The Advertiser. You wouldn't be blamed if you secretly ask yourself, "when they were young did they portray the role of the paperboy in those James Cagney gangster flicks?" After the day's play, the members unwind by listening to songs such as Chuck Berry's 1958 classic Johnny B Goode, and while there is no confirmation on this, probably break into a few swing dance moves.
Ponting's run of tons
Over the last 13 years, there's another tradition every time India come to play here - an obligatory century by Ricky Ponting. The former Australia skipper followed up his 125 in 1999-00, 242 in 2003-04 and 140 in 2007-08, with his 41st Test century, 137 not out, and shared an unbeaten 251-run partnership with current captain, Michael Clarke (140 not out), to guide the hosts to a comfortable 335/3 at stumps on Day One.Clarke won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat. Virender Sehwag had no hesitation in bringing on off-spinner R Ashwin in the fourth over of the morning itself. At the other end, Zaheer Khan applied the shackles on David Warner, restricting him to 8 off 23 balls before trapping him leg-before. Australia were 26/1. Ashwin then got rid of Shaun Marsh to jolt the Aussies further, the southpaw clean bowled by the offie with the scoreboard reading 31/2.
Enter Ricky Ponting. The 37-year-old got off the mark quickly, while at the other end Ed Cowan was holding steady. India looked in with a shout. Then skipper Sehwag threw the ball to Umesh Yadav. Over the next five overs, Ponting schooled the rookie pacer like a headmaster schooling the wayward student.
Yadav would drop short or drift on the pads, Ponting would roll back and pull it for four in his customary elegant manner. He would give him width and Ponting would drive it past the off-side field or cut it square. By the time Umesh finished his spell with unflattering figures of 5-0-41-0, Ponting had already creamed 30 runs off 40 balls. From that point on, a century was always on the cards. Before lunch, Australia received a further jolt as Ashwin picked up his second wicket. A cleverly looped delivery drew Cowan into an extravagant drive, which was held superbly by Laxman, diving forward.
Clarke came in next and, off the third ball he faced, made his intentions clear, driving Ashwin to the boundary rope.In the post-lunch session, Sehwag persisted with Yadav, this time it helped in playing Clarke in as a further four wayward overs by the pacer gave the Australian captain time to find his footing. From that point, there was no way back for the bowlers as Ponting and Clarke set about scoring runs, and scoring them with ease. Barring one edge that flew between wicketkeeper Saha and Laxman at second slip, and another which was spilled by Laxman, Clarke did no wrong. He was stroking fours at will.
Ponting brought up his ton with a classic square cut, and swung his bat wildly in celebration. He pointed to the logo on his helmet and then raised his bat to a deafening applause. Not much later, Clarke brought up his stroke-laden ton (14x4, 1x6) with a four off Yadav.