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Cricket: Ponting helps to lift Aussies

An unbeaten 79-run stand between Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting left Australia in a strong position after their in-form pace attack skittled India for 191 on a dramatic opening day of the second Test at the SCG.

Having ripped through India's batting line-up in just over two sessions, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle sharing all 10 wickets between them, the hosts also found the going tough on a greenish wicket as Zaheer Khan produced a destructive opening spell.

The left-armer removed David Warner (8), Shaun Marsh (0) and Ed Cowan (16) to reduce Australia to a precarious 37-3 before Ponting (44 not out) and Clarke (47 not out) steered the hosts to 116-3 at stumps, trailing by 75 runs.

Sachin Tendulkar had looked by far the most comfortable Indian batsman before he edged a Pattinson delivery on to his stumps for 41 as he was thwarted in his latest quest for a 100th international century.

Elsewhere, Jacques Kallis and Alviro Petersen hit centuries to drive South Africa into a commanding position on the first day of the third Test against Sri Lanka at Newlands.

South Africa, trying to win a series at home for the first time in three years, had slipped to 56-2 after being sent in to bat, before Kallis and Petersen rescued them with a 205-run partnership.

The hosts ended the day on 347-3.


Northampton coach Jim Mallinder is optimistc that Courtney Lawes will be fit for England's Six Nations campaign despite being ruled out injured for several weeks.

The 22-year-old is having a scan on his knee but should be available for the Six Nations if selected, with England opening against Italy on February 11.

Mallinder said: "I think he'll be out for a few weeks. It's not a serious one. He was playing really well (so) it's really disappointing for him, but it's not his season over."

England's new interim head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to name the squad for the Six Nations campaign next Wednesday.

Irish Independent