Ricky Ponting continued his impressive Sheffield Shield form ahead of next month’s Test series against South Africa by hitting an unbeaten 89 for Tasmania against Victoria on Tuesday.
Bushrangers captain Cameron White won the toss at the MCG and chose to bowl on a green-tinged pitch, but No.4 Ponting stared down Test quicks James Pattinson and Peter Siddle to strike 10 fours and one six in his 136-ball knock.
Tasmania reached 3-315 at stumps on day one with George Bailey 13 not out.
Ponting, 37, has scored 217 Shield runs at 108.5 this season.
Alex Doolan fell five runs shy of scoring centuries in two successive Shield matches after he was bowled by Siddle for 95 in the 85th over and fifth with the second new ball.
Doolan, who struck 13 boundaries and faced 163 deliveries, shared a 151-run stand for the third wicket with Ponting.
Earlier, Mark Cosgrove (56) and Test batsman Ed Cowan (42) shared an opening stand of 90.
Cosgrove smashed a long-hop from off-spinner Glenn Maxwell to fine leg where Siddle took a diving catch in the fourth over after lunch.
The 28-year-old Cosgrove, a former Australian one-day representative, has scored 288 Shield runs at an average of 72 this season.
Cowan’s 196-minute stay ended with the total on 134 when the Test opener poked a catch to David Hussey at second slip off the bowling of Clint McKay.
With national chairman of selectors John Inverarity looking on, Test pacemen Siddle (1-76 off 18 overs) and Pattinson (0-63 off 17) were unable to get early breakthroughs although they were more threatening with the second new ball.
Victoria are on top of the table with two wins to start the season.