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One hell of a belly-landing!

Ricky Ponting has hit Test hundreds before, 39 of them to be precise. But never before has scoring a century taken so much out of the 37-year-old as his drought-ending 134 did on Wednesday. Rohit Bhaskar reports. Number crunch

india Updated: Jan 05, 2012 01:53 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Spectators-stand-and-applaud-as-Australia-s-Ricky-Ponting-walks-from-the-field-after-being-dismissed-by-India-s-Ishant-Sharma-during-the-second-test-cricket-match-at-the-Sydney-Cricket-Ground-Reuters-Photo
Spectators-stand-and-applaud-as-Australia-s-Ricky-Ponting-walks-from-the-field-after-being-dismissed-by-India-s-Ishant-Sharma-during-the-second-test-cricket-match-at-the-Sydney-Cricket-Ground-Reuters-Photo

Ricky Ponting has hit Test hundreds before, 39 of them to be precise. But never before has scoring a century taken so much out of the 37-year-old as his drought-ending 134 did on Wednesday.



The 33 innings since his last century, going back to January 2010, had been a dark streak in a grand batting career, and it was only fitting that he lay smeared in dirt after putting an end to that barren run.



In Ponting’s own words he had a "brain fade" at 99, going for a run when none was on. If Zaheer Khan’s throw from mid-on had hit the stumps, Ponting would have been stranded on 99. An anti-climax that none in the over 30,000 strong crowd would've appreciated after the drama that had built up once he entered the nervous 90s with a classy flick of his pads. The tension grew manifold after a lunch break that saw him spend 40 minutes in the dressing room on 97. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/05-01-12-metro17b.jpg

Great escape
Talking of the single that finally saw him reach hundred number 40, Ponting said, “I can’t talk you through much, I know I was probably out by a few yards if the ball hit the stumps… I had a bit of a brain fade. I thought I’d hit it into the gap but the ball went a bit quicker than I expected. Thankfully he missed the stumps, otherwise it would’ve been a pretty sad end to what could have been great day.”

Ponting lay on the ground for seconds, then got up and took off his helmet, raised both arms skywards, smiling ear to ear. The applause was deafening and never looked like dying down.

Ponting was at his humorous best while recalling the moment. “My head went up, my shirt was destroyed, my (helmet) grille was pressed against my face, I was spitting out pieces of the wicket so that I could try and smile, had grass down my thigh pads. I had to change my shirt in the middle of the ground, which was probably the highlight of the day for the crowd. When you reach three figures in a Test, it’s a very special feeling. This is the first time I’ve had to do it in such circumstances.”