Simon Katich fashioned his third Test hundred and overshadowed the 10 000-run milestone of captain Ricky Ponting to lead a solid Australia batting performance in the second Test against West Indies on Friday.
Katich was undefeated on 113 as Australia, choosing to bat on a hard, docile pitch, reached 259-3 in their first innings when bad light stopped play eight overs early on the opening day of the inaugural Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground. The venue has became the 11th ground to host Tests in the Caribbean and the 98th in the world.
Katich reached his landmark when he drove his 197th delivery from Dwayne Bravo languidly through mid-on for his eighth boundary.
But Katich was fortunate that Runako Morton dropped the straightforward chance he offered on 90.
The left-hander, promoted to open the batting in the absence of the injured Matthew Hayden, tried a cut, failed to keep the ball down, and it flew straight into Morton’s lap, and the fielder floored it.
Katich, however, had to share centre stage with Ponting. The Australia captain supported with a serene knock of 65, which made him the seventh batsman to pass 10 000 runs in Tests.
Ponting drove a full length delivery outside the off-stump from Ramnaresh Sarwan through extra cover for two to move to 61 and reach the milestone about 15 minutes after the tea break.
He became the third Australian batsman to reach the coveted landmark, after former national captains Allan Border (11 174 runs) and Steve Waugh (10 927).
Ponting, playing in his 118th Test, after making his debut against Sri Lanka in 1995 at Perth, batted through lunch and tea to add 136 for the second wicket with Katich before he drove hard at a rising ball outside the off-stump and was caught at second slip off Jerome Taylor about 20 minutes after tea.
Michael Hussey was caught at mid-wicket for 10 off Darren Sammy, pulling at a long-hop from the medium-fast bowler.
Michael Clarke, whose appearance in the series was delayed when he was granted compassionate leave to grieve the death of his fiancÃ©e’s father, arrived at the crease and showed no signs of rust. He was not out on 38 and added 60 with Katich before the close.
Before lunch, Ponting and Katich helped Australia emerge from a painstakingly slow start, after a brief rain shower delayed the start by 15 minutes.
Katich and fellow opener Phil Jaques batted circumspectly through the first hour-and-a-half before Dwayne Bravo made the breakthrough.
Jaques, playing back and across to a full-length delivery from Bravo, was adjudged lbw to the bowler’s third ball for 17 to leave Australia 37-1.
Ponting came to the wicket and immediately played in his typically forthright manner, and the runs started to flow for Australia, as they reached 70-1 at lunch.
The West Indies had a scare early in the morning, when Edwards slid on the fresh pitch as he was about to deliver his first ball of the Test. The fast bowler recovered to continue his opening spell, but he bowled raggedly, and the Aussies were able get away to a sound start.
After lunch, Katich and Ponting completed half-centuries to build a solid platform for Australia.
Making full use of the perfect conditions, the pair carried Australia to 151-1 at the tea break.
Katich reached his 50 when he hooked Powell to deep fine leg for his sixth boundary, and Ponting brought up his half-century when he swung a short ball from the same bowler over mid-wicket for his fifth four.
After tea, Australia endured a shaky first hour when they lost Ponting and Hussey.
From the first ball to the last, Clarke stroked the ball crisply, and executed some elegant off-drives, which brought him most of his five fours.
Clarke had an anxious moment on 21 when he drove through the hands of Powell on his follow-through with the bowler more interested in self-preservation.
Australia lead the three-Test series 1-0 after they completed a 95-run victory in the opening Test last Monday at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica. — AFP