Cameron White, Ponting guide Australia to 250

Cameron White, Ponting guide Australia to 250

Cameron White, Ponting guide Australia to 250

Australian cricketer Shane Watson plays a shot during the Fourth ODI against India in Mohali on Monday. AFP

Put into bat, Australia stitched together half-centuries from Ponting (52) and White (62) and cameos from Shane Watson (49) and Michael Hussey (40) to give their bowlers a chance to defend a decent total.

A win would not only help Australia level the series but also keep the team's number one ODI tag intact.

Going strong at 196 for three, Australia came unstuck towards the end and fumbled in the batting powerplay, which cost them four wickets earning just 27 runs, before eventually folding in 49.2 overs.

Ashish Nehra (3/37) was pick of the Indian bowlers, while Harbhajan Singh also grabbed a couple of wickets.

The spate of injuries to key players had forced Ponting to open in Delhi but the Australia skipper could afford to return to his usual number three spot today as Shaun Marsh replaced Adam Voges in the playing XI.

Marsh, who dons Kings XI Punjab jersey in the Indian Premier League and hence a popular with the locals, could not make the most of the opportunity and was back in the hut in the eighth over with just five runs against his name.

With opener Gautam Gambhir nursing a neck injury, India have brought in Virat Kohli in the side. Other opener Virender Sehwag, who suffered a foot injury in the last match in Delhi, was declared fit to play.

Never at ease either against Ashish Nehra's angles or the generous swing that Praveen Kumar was generating, Marsh scratched around for a while before a Nehra delivery struck him low and plumb.
It was a familiar scenario for Ponting, who joined hands with Watson to rebuild the innings and the skipper did not let down.
Ponting looked in sublime touch and he made a statement of intent when he pulled the first delivery he faced -- Nehra was the bowler -- for a boundary, a shot sheerly out of the top drawer.
Dhoni unleashed Ishant Sharma, hoping the beanpole pacer would once again torment the Australian captain like he had done in the past but Ponting was in no mood to oblige.
The Tasmanian was quick to assert himself and he nonchalantly hit his nemesis over long-on for a neat six, following it with a boundary that nearly cleared the long-off ropes.
Watson, who looked scrappy initially, also grew in confidence and opened up, picking boundaries off Praveen and Ishant.
The duo had added 64 runs to lend stability when Dhoni pressed Harbhajan Singh into service and collaborated with the spinner to remove Watson off Harbhajan's first delivery.
It was a thick edge off Watson's blade that gently nestled into Dhoni's anticipating gloves, leaving the batsman just one run short of a half-century that looked so imminent.

Ponting didn't allow the setback to bog him down and played with blithe abandon, using his feet against the spinner and sweeping with elan. One such swept boundary off Harbhajan brought up his fifty but Ponting returned soon, beaten by Ravindra Jadeja's direct throw, much to Dhoni's relief.

Back in the dressing room, Ponting, however, had the satisfaction of watching Hussey and White continuing the good work with some sensible cricket during their 73-run stand.
White smote Yuvraj over mid-wicket for a six before inflicting some damage on Ishan't bowling figure. In-form Hussey, on his part, negotiated the spinners with aplomb and once stepped out to hit Yuvraj over the ropes.

Hussey was looking good for his fifty when he holed out to Ishant, trying to hit Yuvraj out of the ground.
Australia lost White just after they had taken the batting powerplay with Nehra collecting a Mitchell Johnson drive off his own bowling and breaking the stump at non-striker's end with White short of ground.
With Mitchell Johnson (8) doing precious nothing to enhance his all-rounder claim, Australia barely managed to reach the 250-mark.