Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke hold fort for Australia

Ricky Ponting who scored his 61st half-century is unbeaten on 91 runs at the close of second session Getty Images

Adelaide: Jan 24, 2012

Batting great Ricky Ponting was within sniffing distance of his 41st Test century as Australia seized control in the second session of the opening day of the final cricket Test against India on Tuesday.

The veteran Australian batsman showed sublime touch in notching up 91 by tea and has so far put on 130 runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Michael Clarke (71) to guide the home team to 214 for three at the break.

Australia added 116 runs without losing any wicket in the middle session from 27 overs after resuming at 98 for three in the afternoon at the Adelaide Oval here.

Ponting and Clarke were steady to begin with against the bowling pair of Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav but it wasn’t long before the big shots began booming off their bat.

Clarke shifted gears in Yadav’s second over when he pulled the youngster from the meat of his bat for four. Then Zaheer, coming from round the wicket, twice drifted down on to the pads and both Clarke and Ponting helped themselves to a boundary each.

Yadav was removed after four expensive overs for 26 runs which gave him embarrassing figures of none for 67 from his nine overs.

Now it was the turn of the other two frontline bowlers to face the music at the hands of the Australian pair.

Clarke went after Ishant Sharma, driving him ever so sweetly through the covers but then edged him dangerously between the keeper and the widish slip for a four.

Ponting took the cue and chopped Sharma off the front foot past the point boundary.

Clarke then turned his attention on Ashwin and pulled him ferociously before coming down the track and lifting the off-spinner over his head.

It also raised the half century for Clarke, made off 69 balls and inclusive of eight fours.

Ponting then swept Ashwin for a single to raise his 13,000 runs in Test cricket. Another drive into covers off Ishant brought the century stand for the fourth wicket.

As the tea break neared, Clarke only turned more ruthless against Ashwin and cut him hard through the gap at cover point for a boundary.

One ball later, the Australian skipper played a square cut for another four before hitting him over covers for yet another boundary.

So far, Ponting has batted for 202 minutes and hit 10 fours from 145 balls while Clarke has been around for 131 minutes and 105 balls with cracked 12 fours.

Brief Score: Australia 214 for 3 (Ricky Ponting 91*, Michael Clarke 71*, Ed Cowan 30; Ravichandran Ashwin 2 for 58, Zaheer Khan 1 for 32) vs India

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