London: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting marked his first-class Surrey debut with a century against Derbyshire in the County Championship on Saturday.
With the century, Ponting equalled Tendulkar's tally of 81 first-class hundreds. Ponting reached the mark in his 489th innings while Tendulkar had taken 486 innings to reach the figure.
Interestingly Sunil Gavaskar also has 81 first-class centuries - an Indian record which Sachin recently equalled. Sir Jack Hobbs leads the list of most first-class tons, with 199 to his name.
Ponting has retired from international cricket and has joined Surrey for a brief spell while captain Graeme Smith is away on international duty.
The 38-year-old batsman showed there is still life in the old dog as he cruised to his 81st hundred and shared a third-wicket stand of 180 in 49 overs on the third day of a four-day match at Derby.
Arun Harinath made a career-best 154, while Ponting was unbeaten on 120 from 182 balls out of 362 for four at the close.
However, with Surrey still trailing by 90 runs it is hard to see either side forcing a victory on the final day.
Vikram Solanki and Harinath put on 133 for the second wicket to set the stage for Ponting.
Derbyshire knew they had to get Ponting early to put the visitors under pressure, but several of their bowlers complained of "light-headedness" along with umpire Nigel Cowley, who left the field for 20 minutes and was replaced by Surrey first team coach Ian Salisbury.
The sight of Ponting stroking the ball around was enough to make their heads spin but Harinath was far from overshadowed and celebrated his third first-class century in style by lofting Durston for a straight six that was well caught by a spectator.
Ponting's first 50 for Surrey arrived from 85 balls when he pulled David Wainwright for his sixth four, although he was lucky when he mistimed a pull at Footitt which lobbed over the wicketkeeper's head for two.
Ponting was soon raising his bat in recognition to the applause for his hundred, which came when he swept Durston for his 13th four.
(with AFP inputs)
Story first published on: Sunday, 02 June 2013 09:16 IST