Aussies hit 400(!) first day, 2nd Test v India

ADELAIDE, Australia, Dec 12 (AFP) - Captain-in-waitingRicky Ponting smashed an unbeaten 176 as Australiaroasted a threadbare Indian bowling attack to take avice-like grip on the second Test at the Adelaide Ovalon Friday.
Vice-captain Ponting, who will take over asAustralia’s Test skipper on the retirement of SteveWaugh early next month, continued his rich scoring veinwith his 10th century in his last 19 Tests. His 19thTest century sets the Australians well on the way to animposing first innings total.
The Indians were incapable of stemming the flow ofruns after competing so well in the drawn first Test inBrisbane.
At stumps on day one, Australia had raced to 400 forfive on a perfect batting strip after winning the toss-- a sumptuous scoring rate of 4.4 runs an over.
Ponting collected 24 boundaries in his 364-minuteinnings knock, and wrapped up a superb day for Australiawith Adam Gilchrist not out nine.
I had a life on 17 which was a good let-off for meand the wicket was very good to bat on and the outfieldwas really quick, I'm very happy with the way thingswent,'' Ponting said. From a team’s point of view, 5-400 on a first day ofa Test match is an outstanding start and it’s vitaltomorrow morning that we capitalise on that start andget a good partnership going.
``Today we managed to bat through the day and thewicket is going to be very hard for anyone to bowl on.’’
Simon Katich was out for 75 in the day’s second lastover to a memorable diving catch by Virender Sehwag inthe outfield off Agit Agarkar’s bowling.
Ponting gave just one chance in his six-hour vigilwhen he was dropped on 17 by Sehwag at third slip.
Katich, in the team for the injured Darren Lehmann,grew in confidence after taking 28 minutes and 13 ballsto get off the mark.
His knock included nine fours and a six off 109 ballsand he shared in a 138-run partnership with Ponting for the fifth wicket.
Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly had limited bowlingoptions after the loss of strike bowler Zaheer Khan witha hamstring injury and front-line off-spinner HarbhajanSingh, who is expected to have surgery on his middlespinning finger next week.
The tourists’ docile attack was led by 19-year-oldTest debutant Irfan Pathan and fellow left-armer AkishNehra, who made up for his lamentable ground fieldingwith an improved second spell of two wickets.
Experienced Anil Kumble, who came in for Harbhajan,may have taken 359 career Test wickets, but he continuedhis lean pickings in Australia where he averages over 90for each of his six wickets in four Tests.
The five Australian wickets to fall were MatthewHayden (12), Justin Langer (58), Damien Martyn (30),Steve Waugh (30) and Katich (75).
Pathan claimed the wicket of Hayden when he edged towicketkeeper Parthiv Patel inside the first half-hour,Pathan’s first spell was 1-27 off seven overs.
First Test centurion Justin Langer was out on thesecond-last ball before lunch for 58, ending a 113-runpartnership with Ponting.
Nearing lunch Langer ripped into Kumble, clubbing twosixes and two fours for 20 runs in one over to race tohis 20th Test half-century off 64 balls.
But he was deceived by a Kumble delivery and wascramped up in an attempted sweep shot to spoon a catchto the retreating Sehwag.
Martyn looked to be cruising before he edged Nehra toVVS Laxman at second slip leaving Australia at 200 forthree. That brought skipper Waugh into bat to a hugeroar in his final Adelaide Test in his farewell series.
Waugh crashed left-arm paceman Pathan for successivefours, but his 68-minute innings came to an end when he was bowled byNehra after being set up with two short-pitched ballsand then getting a full-length delivery.
Australia surprised at the start of the day by leavingout left-arm paceman Nathan Bracken to make room forfast bowler Brad Williams in the eleven.
Andy Bichel was expected to lose his place but waskept in the team despite his woeful return of 1-130 inthe first innings of the Brisbane Test on the strengthof his form over the last 18 months in the nationalteam.