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Friday, December 06, 2013

Clarke's masterly 148 & Haddin's ebullient 118 give Australia upper hand: T2 D2

England 1/35 (21ov) trail Australia 9/570dec (158ov, Clarke 148/245b/17x4, Haddin 118/177b/5x6 11x4, Harris 55*/54b/2x6 6x4' Rogers 72, Bailey 53, Watson 51.Broad 3/98, stokes 2/70, Swann 2/151, Anderson 1/85, Panesar 1/157)  by 535 runs on 1st inns: T2/5 D2/5 at Adelaide Oval.

This photo of the big screen at the Oval late today says a lot about how Mitchell Johnson tore into the England batting in the latter part of the day's play, but it doesn't reveal how Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin, by adding 200 for the 6th wicket , put Australia in a dominant position. To get an idea of how well they batted try to watch some video highlights.

Australia regained the initiative in the first half hour when neither Stuart Broad nor Monty Panesar, a surprise if not unpopular,  choice ( esp Monty) to open the day's proceedings, were able to  break through and conceded more than a few runs.

 Clarke and Haddin added exactly 200 for the seventh wicket, then a couple of players sold their wickets cheaply before Ryan Harris  and Nathan Lyon hiT out, taking the score past 500 and allowing Clarke to declare with a comfortable, though by no means commanding, lead given the way some Adelaide Tests have gone in the last few years.

The England bowlers plugged away but never looked consistently threatening. Ben Stokes was the most consistent, and according to the speed gun, the second fastest, albeit some distance behind Johnson, on the day. Broad and Jimmy Anderson were both used in short spells: the former had his moments, the latter stayed well within his capabilities. Panesar and Graeme Swann toiled away until the last phase of the innings when they wilted under the pre- declaration onslaught. Surprisingly neither Joe Root nor Kevin Pietersen bowled. 

Conditions were perfect for batting: the pitch continued to play true, the sun shone all day and the temperature remained low by Adelaide standards. The difference between the two sides was the quality of Clarke and Haddin's batting, while Johnson's burst of speed underlined the gap between the pace attacks of the two sides.

For England to save the Test they will need to through D3 and beyond. It's hard to see them doing so without a major contribution from Pietersen and Ian Bell plus high order support from the others. Australia's task is more clear cut, but won't be easy if the pitch, as seems likely, doesn't deteriorate.

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