Cricket Australia Items/news/2012/10/23/vicvtasday1

Ponting closes in on Shield ton

UPDATED 20 November, 2012 10:54PM AEST | by Robert Somers at the MCG 6

Ricky Ponting was nearing a century as Tasmania defied a star-studded Victorian attack to reach 3-315 at stumps on day one of their Sheffield Shield clash at the MCG.

Sent in to bat, the Tigers top order withstood a near-international strength Bushrangers arsenal containing Test stars Peter Siddle and James Pattinson, former one-day international quicks Clint McKay and John Hastings and Australian all-rounders Andrew McDonald and Glenn Maxwell on Tuesday.

Unheralded Alex Doolan (95) topscored while Test batsmen Ponting (89 not out) and Ed Cowan (42) enjoyed long stints at the crease ahead of the Australia's series opener against South Africa at the Gabba on November 9.

In-form opener Mark Cosgrove also contributed to Tasmania's dominant day with 56.

The contest, featuring 12 current or former Test players, unfolded in front of the usual sprinkling of Shield enthusiasts, including national selection boss John Inverarity.

He would have noted spearhead duo Siddle (1-76) and Pattinson (0-63) managed just one wicket between them on a greenish Melbourne wicket that was being used for the first time this season.

The Bushrangers didn't draw blood until midway through the second session when Cosgrove top edged spinner Glenn Maxwell to fine leg, where Siddle took a diving catch and ended a solid-but-slow 90-run opening stand.

Cowan was out next when he edged McKay to second slip.

It was a typically patient innings from the left-hander and one that added to his reputation as an unflappable opener given he faced 135 balls when batting was most difficult.

Tasmania were 2-134 when Ponting arrived at the crease and the Test legend, along with a free-scoring Doolan, quickly halted Victoria’s momentum.

With seven Test centuries at the MCG to his name, Ponting blunted the Bushranger quicks by punishing short balls with his trademark pull shot and driving overpitched deliveries to the straight boundary.  

Doolan's knock was equal in style and effect and as the duo forged a 151-run partnership that left the table-topping Victorians with few answers.

But the 26-year-old fell five runs short of a fourth first-class century when a lion-hearted Siddle broke through his defence 10 minutes before the close of play.

In the first session, Pattinson and Siddle tested Cowan and Cosgrove with good pace and a probing line but failed to find the breakthrough.

Pattinson went close to dismissing Cosgrove when the burly left-hander shouldered arms to a ball that went within a whisker of the top of his off-stump. He then survived a close lbw shout the next delivery.

Siddle was later denied Cowan's scalp when another boisterous leg before appeal was turned down.

Pattinson returned with a lively spell in the shadows of stumps but had no joy despite sending the ball past George Bailey (13 not out) and Ponting's outside edges.

Hastings (0-43) and McDonald (0-20) also went wicketless.

Leg-spinning skipper Cameron White tried his luck with seven overs in the third session but finished with 0-24.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 23 October, 2012 5:53PM AEST

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