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Ponting passes 13,000 Test runs

Australia's Ricky Ponting is eyeing Steve Waugh's record for the most capped Test player. (REUTERS)


Ricky Ponting scored his 13,000th test run as he and Michael Clarke put Australia in charge on 214 for three at tea on the opening day of the fourth and final test against India on Tuesday.

India, playing for pride after losing the series with emphatic defeats in the first three tests, had removed Australia's top order before lunch but Ponting and Clarke put on an unbeaten 130 for the fourth wicket to steady the ship.

Ponting was closing on his 41st test century at the break having scored a fluent 91 not out, with his successor as Australia captain Clarke on 71 on a sweltering day at the Adelaide Oval.

The 37-year-old, who scored his first century in two years in the second test in Sydney, brought up his 61st test fifty with two runs behind square leg just after lunch and scored his 13,000th test run with a swept single to deep square leg.

Ponting has scored a century in all three of the test matches he has played against India at Adelaide, including a 242 in a losing cause in 2003.

Clarke, who won the toss and elected to bat, has been in a rich vein of form himself and he reached the half century mark in 69 deliveries with a lofted drive for his eighth four midway through the session.
Virender Sehwag had made a good start as replacement skipper for the banned Mahendra Singh Dhoni, keeping the Australians on the back foot and bucking convention by introducing the off spin of recalled Ravi Ashwin in just the fourth over.

It was the pace bowling of Zaheer Khan at the other end, however, that forced the breakthrough when his inswinger trapped lefthander David Warner leg before for eight with just 26 runs showing on the picturesque ground's famous old scoreboard.

Shaun Marsh has had a poor series and that continued when Ashwin sent him back to the dressing room after 10 minutes, when the batsman completely misjudging the flight of a ball which went between bat and pad and took the bails off.

The 28-year-old's three runs took his tally to 17 in five innings in the series and he will need a big score if he gets to bat again to save his test career.

Ashwin struck again 10 minutes before lunch to remove Ed Cowan for 30, tempting the opener into a miscued cover drive that VVS Laxman intercepted with a fine low catch at short cover to leave Australia at 84 for three.

Sehwag's captaincy faltered, however, when Clarke, on 35, got a thick edge that would have been gobbled up by first slip only for the ball to fly through the huge gap between the wicketkeeper and second slip and go for four.

Dhoni was banned for one match by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after India failed to keep to an acceptable over rate in the third test.