By BV Swagath
A double century from Skipper Michael Clarke and centuries from David Warner and Michael Hussey has put Australia in a supreme position of 482 for 5 in the opening day’s play of the Second Test at Adelaide. Incredibly this is the fourth double century for the 31-year-old Michael Clarke in this calendar year of 2012, with two of them coming in this series.
As far as the record books are concerned, Australia had matched their previous second best of 482 scored in a single day’s play which came against India at Sydney in 2000. For the record, the highest total scored in a single day is 588 by England against India at Old Trafford way back in 1936. The highest runs scored in a day’s play for Australia is still the 492 that scored against South Africa at Sydney way back in 1910.
Australia had won the toss and elected to bat first on the extremely flat Adelaide Oval pitch. There were no changes in the Aussie XI while the Proteas made two changes with Fad du Plessis (on debut) and leg-spinner Imran Tahir taking the places of the injured JP Duminy and Vernon Philander who was ruled out with a stiff back.
The hosts got off to a solid start of 43 for no loss before Jacques Kallis broke the stand when he had Ed Cowan (10) caught and bowled bat and toe with a yorker. In his next over, Kallis sent in another over which spoilt Ricky Ponting’s chances of resurrecting his international career. Ponting was once again dismissed cheaply for a single digit score and with this his place in the Australian team looks very doubtful. In between Kallis’ double strike, Rob Quiney who is playing his second Test was caught in the slip for a duck off Morne Morkel.
Australia were on the backfoot at 55 for 3 in 13 overs when Skipper Michael Clarke joined David Warner who was under pressure to score big. The Australian version of Virender Sehwag got a confidence boosting 67 by lunch to take his side to lunch without any further damage. The first session almost went to South Africa but they received a serious blow with Jacques Kallis leaving the field midway during his 4th over with a hamstring strain. More than his bowling, the Proteas will be in deep trouble if Kallis wouldn’t turn out to bat for them in the rest of the Test Match.
After lunch, the 26-year-old Warner brought up his 3rd Test century in just 93 balls. Morne Morkel ended his innings in the 38th over by forcing him to nick behind with Australia recovering beautifully towards 210 for 4. Warner finished with 119 (from 112 balls with 16 fours and four sixes). South Africa’s hopes of making inroads after Warner’s exit were all gone as Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey got a fine stand going to take the hosts to 280 for 4 in 51 overs at Tea. The 31-year-old Clarke by then had scored his 21st Test century.
The final session was a massacre as Michael Clarke went onto score his double century and in the very next ball, the 37-year-old Michael Hussey brought up his 18th Test hundred. Hussey was dismissed when he was bowled through the gate with the second new ball by Dale Steyn in what turned out to be the last ball of the day’s play. Hussey got out with 103 (from 137 balls with 9 fours and 4 sixes). He put up a massive partnership of 272 for the 5th wicket with his Skipper in just 49.3 overs. Michael Clarke went to the dressing room unconquered on 224* (from just 243 balls with 39 fours and a six).
The pitch and the short boundaries had a lot to help the Aussies to maintain a stunning run rate of 5.55. Michael Clarke was easily playing freely through the line of the ball of the pacers while the pitch looked very slow to whatever that was pitched on the shorter side. There was just little margin to err for the bowlers. Leg spinner Imran Tahir had a terrible day getting hit all around the park for 159 in 21 wicketless overs!