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India fight back on day one

Late wickets undermine Ponting century

Ponting: Century clearly meant a lot

First Test Match
Bangalore
Australia 254-4 (R T Ponting 123, S M Katich 66) v India

Australia captain Ricky Ponting scored his first century in India before the tourists were pegged back on the opening day of the first Test in Bangalore.

Ponting, who averaged just 12 in eight previous Tests in India, scored 123 as his side reached 254-4 by the close having opted to bat first on an unresponsive pitch.

The Tasmanian had made a tardy start after Matthew Hayden was out to the third ball of the day, but was in full stride when umpire Asad Rauf gave him out lbw to Harbhajan Singh in the final session, despite the ball appearing to be spinning past the leg stump.

Hayden also looked to have been on the wrong end of a poor decision - Rauf slow to raise the finger after an appeal for caught behind off the bowling of Zaheer Khan, the left-hander eventually departing with replays showing he had a right to feel aggrieved.

Stealthy progress

But it was India's only success in the morning as opener Simon Katich and Ponting made stealthy progress with spinners Harbhajan and Anil Kumble failing to make inroads despite the former being introduced as early as the 13th over.

Ponting found his fluency after lunch, striking 12 boundaries and frustrating captain Kumble, who switched ends several times in a desperate attempt to find a breakthrough.

But it was seamer Ishant Sharma who ended the 166 partnership, inducing Katich (66) into an uncharacteristic waft outside the off stump with wicketkeeper MS Dhoni taking his second catch of the day.

Ponting, who survived three big lbw appeals from the impressive Sharma, went to tea on 94 not out and showed his great delight at passing the landmark soon after, his hundred coming off 185 balls as Australia looked to press home their advantage.

Kumble appeared to be unfortunate to have a caught and bowled appeal against Ponting turned down when the batsman was on 111 - umpire Rudi Koertzen calling a bump ball after a short conference with Rauf.

The skipper added 60 with Mike Hussey for the third wicket before Rauf sent him back when he missed with an attempt to work the ball on the leg side, at that point Australia were 226-3.

They would have taken the honours for the day if Hussey and Michael Clarke had been able to negotiate the final 10 overs or so, but Kumble had no hesitation in taking the second new ball and the move paid off.

Immediately there was movement for both Sharma and Zaheer and it was the latter who struck again late in the day, darting one back into the pads of Clarke (11) leaving Koertzen little room for doubt.

Hussey remained unbeaten on 46 having struck five boundaries and is likely to be joined at the crease by Shane Watson first thing in the morning.

Australia handed leg-spinning all-rounder Cameron White his Test debut ahead of fellow spinner Jason Krezja, who failed to make an impact in the tour match at the weekend.