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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Clarke's triple century + Hussey's 150* dominate India T2D3


India 191& 2/114 (41ov) trail Australia 4/659 dec (163ov, Clarke 329*, Hussey 150*, Ponting 134, Zaheer Khan 3/122) by 354 runs with 8 second inings wickets in hand: T2/4 D3/5 at the SCG.

Michael Clarke's unbeaten 329/468b (1x6, 39x4) quite rightly defined the today's play. It was the highest individual score made by an Australian in a Test at the SCG and, had he chosen to bat on for a few minutes, Clarke would almost certainly have overtaken the current record highest score ever made by Australians: 334 by Don Bradman and Mark Taylor.

But he didn't, and for what it's worth I think he should have. this was a genuine match situation - remember he came to the wicket at 3/37-  and his innings was played against a good (on paper at least) attack whose deficiencies he today continued to expose. Yes conditions - good weather, good pitch - favoured batting, but the concentration required to maintain focus and to play so many effective strokes all round the wicket (check out his wagon wheel ) made this innings one of the greatest ever played in Test cricket.

Then of course there was Mike Hussey, who with Clarke added 334*  for the fifth wicket, meaning that after the initial wobble Australia added 1/622 (reminiscent of England's 1/517 dec against them at Brisbane  in 2010)
The declaration came when Hussey reached his 150/253b (1x6, 16x4). He looked positive throughout but especially in the latter stages of the partnership played second fiddle to Clarke's brilliance. But it was a quality second fiddle.

And India? Once again the bowling lacked penetration, partly because of its own deficiencies (pace bowlers dropping in pace and not being able to move the ball much, main spinner not as accurate or resourceful as he might have been) and partly because of the brilliance of the Australian batting. The fielding, too, was pretty listless.

So far the Indian batting hasn't fallen apart in its second innings, despite the loss of two of the big four: Virender Sehwag for 4 and, when he seemed to be living up to his "wall" soubriquet, Rahul Dravid for 29/73b (6x4), both Ben Hilfenhaus vicitm.  Gautam Gambhir is holding things together with a sometimes flashy 64*/124b (9x4). He's been dropped once by Brad Haddin off James Pattinson (who needs to moderate his appealing, which often shades into dissent) so will need to ride his luck, as will Sachin Tendulkar who came within a whisker of playing on during his 8*/42b (1x4), if India are to have any hope of making a contest of the Test. It's hard to imagine them doing so.

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