ADELAIDE, Jan 24 (IANS): Ricky Ponting became the third batsman to complete 13,000 runs in Test cricket and along with captain Michael Clarke took Australia to 214 for three at tea on Day One of the fourth Test against India here Tuesday.
Australia, who were 98 for three at lunch, collected 116 runs without the loss of a wicket in the afternoon session, thanks to an unbeaten 130-run stand between Ponting (91) and Clarke (71), showing the same form that helped them forge a 288-run partnership in the Sydney Test.
Ponting, on course for his second hundred of the series, has become the first Australian to cross the 13,000-run mark and is only behind India's Rahul Dravid (13,262) and Sachin Tendulkar (15,432) in the all-time list.
India bowled with discipline in the morning but went erratic for most part of the afternoon session, conceding runs at four an over.
Ponting and Clarke made the most of the loose balls that came their way. Umesh Yadav's day went from bad to worse as he let the settled batsmen off the hook by bowling short and wide in his first spell after the break. From 41 runs off five overs in the morning, he conceded a further 36 off the next 24 balls.
Both Ponting and Clarke are great players against spin and they displayed their exemplary skills while playing Ravichandran Ashwin (2/58), who was forced to change his line every and now then as the batting duo decided to counter-attack him.
India's best chance of taking a wicket went begging in the 45th over when Australia were cruising at 154 for three. Clarke, then batting on 35, slashed hard at a wide ball off Ishant Sharma, with the thick edge going between the second slip and the wicketkeeper to the boundary.
Earlier, Ashwin struck twice to leave Australia at 98 for three at lunch.
The visitors edged out Australia in the morning session by taking two early wickets of David Warner (8) and Shaun Marsh (3) and then breaking a 53-run stand between Ed Cowan (30) and Ricky Ponting just before the break.
Ashwin, who was brought into the attack in the fourth over of the match by India's stand-in captain Virender Sehwag, bowled well for his two wickets. Zaheer Khan (1/32) got the important wicket of Warner.
India bowled in good areas in the first hour after Clarke decided to bat on a good batting surface at the Adelaide Oval.
Zaheer troubled the left-handed opening pair with his persistent off-stump line and got rid of the dangerous Warner with an incoming delivery hitting on his pads, getting him leg before. Yadav was wayward in his first over and was instantly replaced by Ashwin, who gave good support to Zaheer.
Ashwin, who missed the last Test, was not afraid to flight the ball and was also able to stop the flow of runs, giving away 20 runs in 9 overs.
His first wicket was of out-of-form Marsh, who was bowled while playing for the turn to a ball that went straight through the gate, leaving Australia at 31 for two in 10 overs.
Ashwin's second scalp came just when it looked Australia were getting back into the contest with Ponting playing shots all around the ground. Cowan tried to do the same but was caught at short cover by V.V.S. Laxman.