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Watson, Ponting steady Australia


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SHANE Watson and skipper Ricky Ponting batted steadily to help Australia recover from an early blow in the opening Test against India today.

Opener Watson was unbeaten with 44 and Ponting was on 40 not out as the tourists reached 101-1 in their first innings at lunch on the opening day after winning the toss.

Australia lost opener Simon Katich for six runs before Watson and Ponting put on 88 for the unfinished second wicket.

Paceman Zaheer Khan, returning to the Test squad after missing a recent Test series in Sri Lanka due to an injury, was unlucky not to get the wicket of Watson with his second delivery as Virender Sehwag dropped a catch at gully.

The fast bowler did not have to wait long for success, trapping Katich leg-before in his third over.

India pressed spinners into the attack after just 10 overs on a slow track, but Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh could not break the partnership.

Watson was lucky to survive on 37 when wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni failed to hold on to an edge off left-arm spinner Ojha.

He played some handsome shots, straight-driving paceman Ishant Sharma and then pulling Zaheer for two fours. He has so far hit five boundaries in his 86-ball knock.

Ponting started impressively, pulling Zaheer for his first four. He has so far struck five fours in his 78-ball knock.

Off-spinner Harbhajan, a doubtful starter yesterday due to a leg injury, was declared fit in the morning.

Australia went into the match with three specialist fast bowlers – Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus – and one spinner, Nathan Hauritz.

The second and final Test starts in Bangalore on October 9.


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