Ponting makes his statement loud and clear

The Australian captain, dropped for nought, crosses three figure mark after 17 innings and serves warning to England for a tough summer ahead.

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Ricky Ponting is looking to put England on notice ahead of next season's Ashes by making a strong "statement" in the ongoing Test against Pakistan, which will bring down the curtain on the Australian summer. Since handing over the Ashes Urn to England last August, Australia have won four of their five Tests at home and are looking good for a 3-0 clean sweep against Pakistan after closing the first day at Hobart on a commanding 302 for three yesterday. Ponting, dropped by Mohammad Aamer on nought, crossed three figures for the first time in 17 innings and finished the day 137 not out, alongside Michael Clarke (111). The pair came together at 71 for three and have already added 231 runs to break Australia's fourth-wicket record against Pakistan. This Test will be Australia's last at home before the Ashes start in November, and Ponting has vowed to turn in a performance that makes Andrew Strauss take note. "We're trying to make as many statements as we can as a group, and I think the statements we have made over the last few weeks have been pretty loud and pretty clear," said Ponting after scoring his 39th Test century.

"There is a lot more self-belief around the side now than there was at the start of this summer and even looking back to parts of the Ashes. That's probably one thing we've lacked a bit in the last couple of years." Ponting has been keeping a tab on the English, who went into the fourth and final Test against South Africa in Johannesburg with a 1-0 lead. "Their bowling attack has come together really well - [James] Anderson, [Graham] Onions and [Graeme] Swann have done a great job for them of late. It will definitely make for a great summer next year." The Australian selectors have decided to rest fast bowler Mitchell Johnson from the first two one-day internationals against Pakistan. But he will be back for the last three games of the series. Pakistan have recalled former captain Younus Khan for the series. All-rounder James Hopes, meanwhile, said he was not worried about threats by Indian Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena to stop the Australians from playing in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season. Sena leader Bal Thackeray said his activists would target IPL games involving Australians as a protest against attacks on Indian students in Australia late last year. Two IPL venues, Mumbai and Nagpur, are Sena strongholds. "I've been to India a fair bit now and security has never really been a problem for us," said Hopes, one of 40 Australians likely to play in this season's IPL. "We get looked after pretty well and, touch wood, I'm hoping to go there for the whole IPL this year." Cricket Australia and the government have expressed their concerns about the threat, but they will let the players decide whether to play in the tournament or not. @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae

Australia: Shane Watson c Farhat b Gul 29 Simon Katich lbw Asif 11 Ricky Ponting batting 137 Michael Hussey c Ahmed b Aamer 6 Michael Clarke batting 111 Extras: (1lb, 3nb, 4w) 8 Total: (for 3 wickets, 90 overs) 302 Fall of wicket: 1-28, 2-52, 3-71 Bowling: Mohammad Asif 25-6-68-1 Mohammad Aamer 18-4-50-1 (4w) Umar Gul 16-2-68-1 Danish Kaneria 26-2-93-0 Shoaib Malik 5-0-22-0

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