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Beleaguered Indian captain watches Waugh and Ponting hit centuries - by Kuldip Lal


NEW DELHI, March 6 (AFP) - Australian captain Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting warmed up for the second Test against India with stroke-filled centuries on the first day of a three-day match here on Tuesday.

Waugh made 109 and Ponting 102 as the tourists put on an awesome batting display on the run-laden Ferozeshah Kotla wicket to pile up 413-8 against the Indian board president's team.

Indian captain Saurav Ganguly, leading the president's team, watched glumly from the slips as Waugh and Ponting led a run riot which produced almost five runs an over during the day.

Ganguly had requested the selectors to play him in the match after making seven and one in last week's first Test at Bombay which Australia won by 10 wickets with two days to spare.

It is the left-hander's final chance to strike form ahead of the second Test, which begins on his home turf of Eden Gardens in Calcutta on Sunday.

Waugh, whose unbeaten 106 saved Australia from a follow-on against Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai last month, once again came to his side's rescue after they were 35-2 by the eighth over.

He put on 67 for the fourth wicket with twin brother Mark (62) and then 171 for the fifth with Ponting.

Opener Michael Slater, however, continued his poor run on the tour, making just 19 before becoming the first of young seamer Rakesh Patel's two victims in the first hour.

Slater, whose highest score in six innings on the tour has been 32, drove Patel uppishly to Jacob Martin in the covers.

Patel then trapped Justin Langer leg-before for four, before the Waugh brothers joined forces to stage a remarkable recovery by the tourists.

There was little else to enthuse the Indian selectors, who pick the squad for the Calcutta Test on Wednesday and are desperate to find bowling options in the absence of the injured Anil Kumble.

Leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani, ignored for the first Test, did not inspire confidence with figures of two for 96 from 18 overs.

Off-spinner Sharandeep Singh, who made his Test debut against Zimbabwe earlier in the season, claimed four wickets after conceding 103 runs from 23 overs.





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