Thursday, 14 January 2010

Pakistan racked by Ponting and Clark

Less than a week after he was placed firmly in the firing line for faltering form and a contentious coin toss, Ricky Ponting has enhanced his reputation as the best Australian batsman since Don Bradman after notching the fifth double-century of his brilliant career as Pakistan self-destructed for the second time in a fortnight.

Bradman is the only Australian to have scored more double centuries than Ponting after the 35-year-old ground Pakistan into the Bellerive Oval turf on the second day of the Hobart Test for a magnificent 209 lasting almost nine hours.

Ponting combined with his vice-captain Michael Clarke, who made his highest Test score of 166 before leaving a straight one from Danish Kaneria, to produce the sixth-biggest partnership by an Australian pair in Test history - and the second-biggest for the fourth wicket - before declaring the first innings closed at 8-519 on the stroke of tea.

With a square drive carved to the boundary Ponting moved clear of Greg Chappell, who struck four double centuries during his 87-Test career, and alongside Indian maestro Rahul Dravid with five. The Australian captain has a long way to go to compete with Bradman's record of 12 double tons, or indeed West Indian Brian Lara's tally of nine, but there are no other Australians ahead of him on the list.

Ponting resumed on 137 and was determined to make Pakistan even more shattered about dropping him on a duck. He took a particular fancy to Kaneria, who finished with the second-most expensive figures of his career, and although a another, tougher chance went down at cover on 167 the damage was well and truly done by then.

Mohammad Aamer, the culprit who put down Ponting at deep backward square leg on the first morning, eventually got his man with a slower ball that looped to Mohammad Yousuf at mid-off 350 balls later. It was little consolation for the 17-year-old, who had to watch Ponting score a full century in 25 fours. Clarke's knock was inevitably overshadowed but eclipsed his magical 151 on debut in Bangalore back in 2004.

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