Ponting’s century

He arrived at the crease in Cape Town and got off the mark with his favourite pull shot for a six and at that time, it seemed like he was going to get it. He fell across to fuller deliveries from the pacemen and was dismissed in the same fashion for three innings

It was thought that the oxygen for his career would arrive when he guiding the tough chase in the company of Usman Khawaja. When he got out chasing a wide one, it was thought that he had played the final innings of his career at Johannesburg

After he had worked his way to being twenty two runs away from the century, the old failing of falling over to fuller deliveries surfaced again. That the target was paltry in the second innings meant that he would not have got to that elusive three figure knock in Brisbane too

Arriving at his homeground, Hobart, he did something that wasn’t expected of him. He walked for an appeal. That the appeal was for LBW added the element of mystery to that decision of his. When he got out tamely, by mistiming a backfoot defense, it was thought that the end was nigh

He was functioning on borrowed time for reaching the vaunted landmark. On the Boxing day too, he appeared set to reach the landmark until a ball from Umesh Yadav reared up uncomfortably and caught the outside edge of his bat. In the second innings he was out chasing a fuller ball and edging to gully. Though he did not reach the landmark, the combined tally of 122 runs from the Test marked his best return in 11 Tests

Though he seemed to have earned the breathing time, the voices from outside the team were growing stronger by the day. The voices, both, from within and outside said that the time was running out for scoring the elusive century. When he came to the middle with the score reading 8/2, it was expected that a familiar collapse from Australia would ensue at any moment

In the company of Clarke he saw out the dangerous period of play on the first day. On the second day, he was positive from the outset. Though he spent 40 minutes of lunch on 97, he took only 8 balls to reach that magical figure for the first time in 11 days short of two years

It helped that the ground was SCG, the venue where he has scored 1346runs and 5 centuries before this innings. Familiar surroundings and happy memories do tend to extract the best out of any man and Ponting is no different

It was almost that the destiny didn’t want to grant him the century. He would surely have been run-out had the throw from Zaheer Khan been accurate. The only thing that he did right was choosing the fielder in running the single to. The way he ended up after the run was reminiscent to that of Steve Waugh at Oval in 2001

The celebration in itself was full of `joie de vivre. The cricketing world never saw Ponting beaming like he did today. Going by the negative press that he has been getting for the past couple of years, one would have expected him to react aggressively or wag his bat at the press box. Nobody would have faulted him doing that. Credit to the man that he chose to do neither and instead stood with his arms aloft and a huge smile adorning the face

After the game he said that the pride didn’t allow him to go on a low and he knew that the century was around the corner once he started to get the runs. Now that he has weight of runs behind him, he can continue doing what he has been doing for the past couple of years- guiding the youngsters in side- with a lot more authority. Langer, Clarke and all his team mates have been in awe of the work that he has been putting up to get back into form

In the past, Ponting has been known to milk his good form and get centuries on a trot, once he got around to scoring one. Will this century mark the beginning of another rich vein of form? Only time will tell

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