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Clarke smashes unbeaten 251 as Indians put to the sword on Day 2 in Sydney

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michael_clarkeThe second day of the 2nd test between the India and Australia at Sydney saw the Indian bowlers receive a pasting at the hands of Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, whose terrific batting put Australia in an unassailable position at stumps. Resuming on 116/3, the overnight pair of Clarke (251*) and Ponting (134) added a whopping 288 runs for the 4th wicket and killed the life out of the Indian attack. Clarke and Hussey then piled on the agony and added a further 155 runs unbeaten for the fifth wicket to put Australia in the driver's seat, ahead by 291 runs after only two days, having ended the day on 482/4. The Indian bowlers looked jaded and ineffective on what was a very true pitch and 3 of the 4 main bowlers went for over a 100 runs in the innings at an alarming rate to leave the visitors with practically no chance to get back into the contest.

The overnight Aussie batsmen, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke got their team off to a steady start with a reasonably assured display in the morning session. Both batsmen made a conscious effort to get onto the front foot to smother any lateral movement off the surface and got rich rewards for their approach. Zaheer Khan looked off colour this morning as he strayed too often in line and length and allowed the batsmen to get away early. Both Clarke and Ponting got to their half centuries and beyond without much bother as they chipped away at the deficit diligently. Ishant Sharma was by far India's best bowler in the first session, hitting the right areas consistently but without much luck once again. At drinks, Australia were 154/3 with 7 wickets still standing.


Straight after drinks, the well set pair of Clarke and Ponting upped the ante sensing an opportunity to bat India well and truly out of contention in the match. They took advantage of the well spread fields and some inconsistent bowling on both sides of the wicket to score a flurry of boundaries and get close to the Indian total. Clarke raced into the 80s early in the 2nd hour of play scoring freely on both sides of the wicket with some scintillating shots.

India's spinner, R Ashwin was very inconsistent with his bowling, conceding too many easy runs to this well established pair. Umesh Yadav was carted all over the park in his first spell, prompting Dhoni to set a 7-2 off side field to keep the runs down. This ploy was also of no use with Yadav straying way too much in length for that field to be effective. Australia went ahead, with still 7 wickets in hand, and plenty to spare in the first session.

The shoulders of the Indian players dropped alarmingly and they looked rather helpless in the field with the partnership now assuming dangerous proportions. At the 50 over mark in the innings, Australia were scoring at the stupendous rate of 4.5 runs per over, having amassed 224 runs for just the loss of 3 wickets. Michael Clarke reached a well deserved and freely stroked century in the last over before lunch with a trademark cover drive off Ishant Sharma. Australia emerged run away winners in the first session having scored runs at a very very quick rate to have the Indians pinned right on the mat in this test match. Ricky Ponting ended that session unbeaten on 97, just 3 shy of that elusive 40th test hundred.

The second session of the day saw the game drift further away from the visitors as the rampant Australian team piled on the misery on the Indians. Ricky Ponting finally got to his 40th test ton with a slice of luck as he attempted an almost improbable single to Zaheer at mid-on, who missed the stumps. The Indian captain MS Dhoni then decided to shut up shop and went to the part time option of Virat Kohli to give his deflated bowling attack some respite. This Aussie pair though were relentless in their pursuit of runs as they continued to milk runs with ease from both ends at an astounding pace, which saw them notch up the highest partnership for an Aussie pair against India.

Clarke in particular, looked in full flow and took the attack to spinner Ravi Ashwin, dancing down the pitch and smacking him for a huge six over long on. The 300 was brought up soon too, just an hour within a session which saw Australia tame the Indian attack. Michael Clarke reached a flawless 150 in just 230 balls and looked in no trouble whatsoever as the lead went well past a hundred.

The second new ball did bring some joy for the Indians as Ishant Sharma, India's best bowler on the day so far, struck in the 2nd over with it as he got Ponting (134) to drive on the up against a back of a length delivery uppishly to Tendulkar stationed at cover-point. The 288 run stand came to an end finally, but it didn't hold back the Australian captain as he marched in search of his double hundred in aggressive fashion against the new ball. At tea, on day 2, Australia assumed an almost unassailable position in the test thanks to that record breaking stand from Clarke and Ponting that powered Australia to 349/4. Clarke was batting beautifully on 170 and looked poised for a double century, while Hussey had made his way to 8.

That wicket of Ponting before the tea break, was made to look like just an aberration in an otherwise flawless day of cricket for the Australians as their stylish captain eased his way to wonderful double century. His partner Mike Hussey at the other end continued from where he left off in the first test at the MCG timing the ball brilliantly and looking solid against the 2nd new ball. The pair made good use of tired legs in the field and probably mentally tired bowlers to run the Indian team ragged and rubbed salt into the wounds of the visitors.

While Clarke looked all set to score to a rare triple hundred in test match cricket, Hussey milked the bowling right from the start of his innings nudging his way to a comfortable half century. Dhoni quickly turned to spin from both ends with a relatively new ball, with nothing but an intention to complete the day's quota of overs quickly and halt the misery for the day. Hussey cracked 2 fours and six off consecutive deliveries off Ashwin by using his feet to each of those deliveries to signal his intent for the remainder of the day. He got to his fifty off just 70 balls, in the process adding over a hundred runs for the fifth wicket too with his captain Michael Clarke, who seemed to have struck a purple patch in the innings.

The last half hour of the day wasn't any different from the rest of the day for the visitors as they were put to the sword as Hussey and Clarke added 150 plus unbeaten for the 5th wicket powering the overall lead close to 300 by stumps. At stumps on day 2, Australia got to an imposing 482/4 having added 366 runs in the day for the loss of just one wicket, with Clarke just having reached his 250 and Hussey keeping him company on 55.

After a day of complete dominance for the hosts to follow up the first day of the test which saw Australia already get ahead in the match, India have their backs completely pinned against the wall, and need a few days of rain to harbour any hopes of salvaging a draw in this game.

Today was a repetition of the hammering received at the hands of the English team early last year as India were left chasing leather throughout the day. It will take some effort from them to come back and put up a fight on day 3 after the battering they received on day 2 of the match as Australia have opened up a massive 291 run lead.


Australia:·Ed Cowan, D Warner, S Marsh, R Ponting, M Clarke, M Hussey, B Haddin, J Pattinson, P Siddle, N Lyon, B Hilfenhaus

India: V Sehwag, G Gambhir, R Dravid, S Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, V Kohli, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, I Sharma, U Yadav

Mini Scorecard:

India 1st Innings 191 all out (59.3 overs)
S Tendulkar 41 (89) J Pattinson 4/43
MS Dhoni 57* (77) P Siddle 3/55

Australia 1st Innings 482/4 (116 overs)
M Clarke 251*(342) Z Khan 3/106
R Ponting 134 (225)

File Photograph Copyright:·Roy Allen