Hayden, Ponting hit tons as Aussies seize control
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Hayden, Ponting hit tons as Aussies seize control

A 234-run partnership between Hayden and Ponting raised Aussie hopes of a series-levelling win.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2003 03:36 IST

Prolific scoring batsmen Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting wrested the initiative off India in a belligerent 234-run partnership to raise Australian hopes of a series-levelling victory in the third Test on Saturday.

Hayden and captain-in-waiting Ponting made the Indians pay after the tourists squandered a great opportunity to bat Australia out of the series when they folded losing six wickets for 16 to be bowled out for 366 in their first innings earlier on the second day.

The Australians cruised to within 49 runs of the Indian total at the close and looking for a substantial innings lead to push for victory over the remaining three days after India's upset four-wicket victory in last week's second Adelaide Test.

At stumps, Australia were 317 for three with Ponting unconquered on 120 off 214 balls with Damien Martyn not out seven.

Hayden raised his 17th century in his 49th Test with a swept four off spinner Anil Kumble before he fell leg before wicket sweeping Kumble on 136, some 14 overs before the close.

Ponting, who takes over the Test captaincy after next week's retirement of Steve Waugh, dashed for a single off Kumble to bring up his 20th Test hundred in 74 Tests and his sixth of the year following his career-best 242 in the last Adelaide Test.

Hayden with his fifth hundred of the year and third against India, including 99 in the first Brisbane Test, took his run tally this calendar year to 1,259, third behind Ponting's unfinished 1,335 runs and West Indian Brian Lara's 1,333.

The big left-hander, who batted for 260 minutes with 17 boundaries and a six, has now tallied 850 runs in six Tests against India at an average of 85.

The stung Australians rebounded from the frustration of Friday's opening day when India posted the highest first-day tally by a touring team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground of 329 for four.

If Boxing Day belonged to India, then the second day was well and truly Australia's.

After dominating the opening day with opener Virender Sehwag plundering 195, the Indians imploded, only adding 37 runs Saturday and offering the Australians a way back into the Test the home side cannot afford to lose with only one more Test to play in Sydney.

India, chasing their first series win in Australia after winning the second Test, need only to draw this Test to hold on to the Border Gavaskar Trophy.

Brett Lee claimed the big wicket of Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly for 37 in the fifth over of the morning.

Ganguly, who edged a short delivery to Justin Langer in the gully, was furious with himself and waved his bat angrily while Lee celebrated with his trademark fist-pumping.

That triggered a tremor in the Indian innings with left-arm paceman Nathan Bracken claiming Parthiv Patel for a first-ball duck to a catch behind and Agarkar self-destructing with a suicidal single off his first delivery.

Brad Williams swooped in from mid-off and underarmed a direct throw to run out Agarkar for another first-ball duck.

Williams had Kumble caught in the slips for three and V V S Laxman fell for a restrained 19 in 108 minutes, snapped up by Hayden at slip in Stuart MacGill's second ball of his first over of the day.

MacGill cleaned up the innings coaxing Ashish Nehra to snick to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist with his final delivery of the same over.

MacGill finished with 3-70 off 15 overs with Brett Lee taking 2-103 off 27 overs.

Langer was out in the seventh over of Australia's innings when he gave Sachin Tendulkar a hot catch at point off Agit Agarkar for 14.

Rumbustious No.7 Adam Gilchrist was promoted in the batting order to No.4 upon Hayden's dismissal but restoring the left-right handed batting combination with Ponting did not work out and he was out for 14 to a skied catch to mid-off off Kumble.


First Published: Dec 27, 2003 06:15 IST