Thursday, 5 January 2012

India face daunting task

India have eight wickets in hand and two days to stave off defeat after reaching 2-114 at stumps on a day where Australia captain Michael Clarke made history during the second Test at the SCG.

Clarke registered an undefeated 329 - the highest score in the SCG's 100-Test history - before declaring Australia's innings closed at 4-659 midway through the second session on day three.

Mike Hussey offered his skipper terrific support, scoring an unbeaten 150 to supplement Ricky Ponting's 134.

The tourists, after scoring just 191 in their first innings, trail by 354 runs in their second visit to the crease.

Gautam Gambhir (68 not out) and a watchful Sachin Tendulkar (8 not out) will resume on day four.

But they can consider themselves fortunate to still be there.

Tendulkar narrowly avoided being bowled off an inside edge on seven while wicket-keeper Brad Haddin should have accepted a thick edge from Gambhir on 66 from James Pattinson's bowling. 

The Indians' planned fightback began disastrously when lethal opener Virender Sehwag slashed at a short and wide delivery from Ben Hilfenhaus (2-37).

David Warner took a spectacular leaping catch at point to remove the dangerous left-hander for just four.

That brought Dravid to the crease and he got off the mark with a classy flick to the boundary in front of mid wicket.

But on 29 Hilfenhaus produced a sublime off-cutter to pass through the narrowest of 'gates' and clip The Wall's middle and off stump.

It left India 2-100 as Tendulkar made his way to the middle of the SCG for the last time to the cheers of 31,644 fans.

Earlier, Clarke smashed a host of new records with a brilliant 329 not out, while Hussey batted superbly to finish unbeaten on 150.

The pair added 334 runs without loss to leave the deflated tourists staring down the barrel of a second consecutive defeat on Australian soil.

In all, the hosts added 622 runs for the loss of one wicket after Clarke and Ponting (134) were united at 3-37 late on day one.

After breaking through for his maiden double century late on day two, run-hungry Clarke picked up where he left off when play resumed on Thursday.

His 329 not out is:

•     The record score on the SCG, bypassing Englishman Tip Foster (287) and West Indian Brian Lara (277);

•     The third highest score by an Australian in Tests;

•     The equal 12th highest score in Tests.

•     The highest score for an Australian against India;

•     The highest score in Australia-India Tests;

•     The sixth time in history an Australian batsman has reached 300

His epic knock lasted 617 minutes, 468 balls and included 39 fours and a six.

The skipper's declaration left him five runs short of the highest Test score by an Australian captain, held by Mark Taylor on 334 (also Don Bradman's highest Test score).

Matt Hayden's 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003/4 remains the highest tally by an Australian while Lara leads all comers with 400.

Hussey became the third century maker of the innings, bringing up his ton with a sharp single shortly before lunch.

The left-hander produced one of his finest Test innings, belting 16 fours and a six off 253 deliveries.

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