Mon, Dec 29, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Ponting gets another double century

CRICKET INTERNATIONALS After India collapsed to 366 all out after deciding to bat first, Australia hit up a match-controling 558 all out, establishing a 192 run lead

AP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALANDAND DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

Australia's Ricky Ponting, left, is stumped by India's wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel for 257 runs during the third day of the third test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, yesterday. Australia were all out for 558 runs in their first innings.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Ricky Ponting joined Don Bradman as the only players to score three double centuries in a year, leaving India battling to save the third cricket test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Ponting, 29, played one of his most mature innings of a 74-test career to post a career-best 257 runs Sunday and put Australia in a strong position to level the series.

After India collapsed to 366 all out after deciding to bat first, Australia, resuming the day on 317 for three, hit up a match-controling 558 all out and a lead of 192 runs.

India was 27 for two in 11 overs at stumps and facing an uphill task to hang on to its 1-0 lead in the four-test series.

The visitors lost openers Akash Chopra (4) and Virender Sehwag (11) with the score on 19. But Rahul Dravid and skipper Sourav Ganguly, on six runs apiece, survived a menacing new-ball spell from fast bowler Brett Lee over 28 minutes to resume the fight Monday.

Bradman scored three centuries against England in 1930 -- 254 at Lords, 334 at Headingley and 232 at The Oval -- in 54 days.

Ponting, the captain-elect, and the most successful batsman in 2003 with 1,472 runs, batted responsibly and hit 26 fours off 458 balls as he batted for just 10 minutes under 10 hours -- the longest he's batted.

His other double centuries were 206 against the West Indies in Port-of-Spain in April and 242 against India in Adelaide when Australia lost by four wickets.

Ponting said he has peaked as a batsman.

"Consistency has been the biggest thing for me this year," he said. "I'm probably at the pinnacle of my career batting-wise."

Ponting scored 2,170 runs in the middle order, most often at No. 6, but since his promotion to No. 3 in 2001, he has scored 3,352 runs with 13 centuries.

Ponting is only the fifth batsman to score back-to-back double centuries after Englishman Walter Hammond, Bradman, South African Graeme Smith and Indian Vinod Kambli.

Ponting's six centuries this year has only been beat by Viv Richards' seven in 1976 when the West Indian scored 1,710 runs, the highest in test cricket in a single year.

Ponting's run total this year is the fourth highest behind Richards, India's Sunil Gavaskar (1,555 in 1979) and England's Michael Vaughan (1,480 in 2002).

New Zealand versus Pakistan

Young fast bowler Ian Butler took a career-best 6-46 to put New Zealand in command of the second cricket test against Pakistan at the end of the third day Sunday.

Operating with the second new ball, Butler sent Pakistan tumbling from 171-5 to 196 all out, giving New Zealand a 170-run first innings lead. At stumps New Zealand was 75-3 in its second innings, leading by 245 overall with two days remaining.

South Africa versus West Indies

South Africa cruised to 303 for three and a lead of 39 runs in the first innings against the West Indies on the second day of the second test Saturday at Kingsmead Stadium.

After the West Indies' stubborn tail was overcome and the visitors were bowled out for 264, Proteas opener Herschelle Gibbs' 23rd boundary helped his side pass that score, and soon after he was bowled for 142, his 11th test century and maiden hundred against the tourists.

Left unbeaten when bad light ended play were Jacques Kallis on 74, and Gary Kirsten on 16.

The pair had been scornful of the first offer to leave the field for bad light, even though the West Indies had their two fastest bowlers in Fidel Edwards and Adam Sanford in action.

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