Mohali:Opener Shane Watson and skipper Ricky Ponting combined for an 88-run unbroken second-wicket stand as Australia recovered from an early blow to reach 101 for one at lunch on the first day of the opening cricket Test against India at the PCA Stadium.
Watson (44 batting, 86 balls, 5x4) and skipper Ricky Ponting (40 batting, 78 balls, 5x4) steadied Australia after opener Simon Katich's (6) early dismissal, trapped leg before by pacer Zaheer Khan.
Ponting won the toss and elected to bat first on a wicket which does not have much to offer to the bowlers.
However, Watson can also consider himself lucky as he has been dropped twice -- on 0 and 38 -- by Virender Sehwag and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni respectively in the opening session of 28 overs.
The all-rounder could have been back in the pavillion off the second delivery of the match by Zaheer that saw Watson flashing hard at a wide delivery but Sehwag, at gully, failed to latch on to the sharp overhead chance.
The other pacer Ishant Sharma's first over was an indication that the wicket was of two-paced nature.
While the first few deliveries bounced a good two metres in front of Dhoni, the next few were nicely gathered by Dhoni as it swung into right-hander Watson.
Zaheer gave the hosts their only breakthrough of the session when he trapped left-hander Katich with an incoming delivery that was hitting on middle and leg. This was after he bowled a few outswingers including a juicy half volley that was driven through the covers by the batsman.
Out came Ponting and the Aussie skipper started his innings by pulling Zaheer to the square-leg boundary and Watson followed the suit in the very next over.
Both Ponting and Watson didn't take any unnecessary risk and waited patiently for loose deliveries. With both Watson and Ponting being strong onside players, Dhoni took Raina out of third slip and positioned him at silly mid-on.
Ishant, on the other hand, bowled his trademark inswingers to Watson but repeatedly overstepped in his bid to step up the pace.
He bowled three no-balls in the first over of his second spell when he was brought on from the pavilion end.
It was the 13th over of the innings and Ishant gave away as many as 19 runs to let Australians off the hook as the total reached 50.
Ishant was guilty of bowling as many as seven no-balls in his spell where he gave away 33 runs.
This gave Ponting and Watson a chance to settle down and their 50 runs partnership for the second wicket came in 55 minutes and took 64 balls in the process.
Although they were cautious but the duo never let go an opportunity to score runs.
With the wicket being on the slower side and not offering much turn on the first morning, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who made the side after being doubtful because of a twisted ankle, and Pragyan Ojha were not able to get much purchase from the wicket.
While Ojha tied up the runs at one end giving only 10 runs in his seven overs, Harbhajan gave away 24 in his wicket-less seven-over spell.
Ojha can consider himself unlucky as the only delivery he got to turn was edged by Watson -- then on 38 -- but Dhoni floored it behind the stumps. The Australia total was 81/1 at that stage.
The visitors reached 100 when Ponting leaned back and punched Virender Sehwag through the covers of the first ball of the 28th over.