Clarke, Watson pile on runs

Sportal December 27, 2012, 12:56 pm
Michael Clarke

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Michael Clarke broke one of Ricky Ponting's many records as Australia piled more misery on Sri Lanka on the second day of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Clarke (56 not out) and Shane Watson (60 not out) batted through the entire opening session on Thursday as Australia reached 3-238 at lunch for an overall lead of 82.

In a match that has already featured a group of personal milestones, Clarke added another string to his bow when he overtook Ponting as Australia's highest Test run scorer in a calendar year late in the session.

Clarke broke Ponting's record of 1544 runs set in 2005 in the second last over of the session when he whipped a Dhammika Prasad (1-56) delivery off his pads through mid-wicket for an easy single.

But he almost didn't get the chance to do so as Kumar Sangakkara missed an extremely difficult stumping chance off Rangana Herath (0-38) moments earlier when Clarke was on 54.

The Australian skipper didn't appear to be at his fluent best throughout the session, but his partnership with Watson featured a variety of different strokes against an undermanned Sri Lankan attack attempting to frustrate the hosts.

Sri Lanka paceman Chanaka Welegedara (0-38) felt for his hamstring after bowling a delivery early in the day, forcing a second substitute fielder on to the ground after Prasanna Jayawardene (thumb) failed to appear on the second morning.

With his bowling options reduced, Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene utilised Herath for much of the session from the members end, while part-timer Angelo Mathews (1-26) was rotated through at the Southern Stand end.

But Clarke and Watson seemed at ease with whatever bowling option Mahela Jayawardene opted for as they put on 88 for the session without taking too many risks.

The duo may have been helped somewhat by a defensive field set by Mahela Jayawardene, but they batted smartly and often found the gaps.

Clarke was extremely fierce on anything short as he hammered a pair of boundaries through point in the first hour and also got gifted a four when a frustrated Shaminda Eranga (0-73) threw four overthrows after collecting the ball in his follow through.

Watson's highlight was a straight six off Herath that smashed into the sightscreen, but he too was given a life in the same over as Clarke when Mahela Jayawardene put down a sharp chance at first slip.

That means Sri Lanka have now missed two chances to dismiss both Clarke and Watson, after the pair were put down in the field late on the opening day of play.

Tilakaratne Dilshan and Sangakkara were the culprits on the first day as Australia dominated with bat and ball to take a firm grip on the match.

A crowd of over 65,000 saw Jackson Bird get his first Test scalp and Mitchell Johnson his 200th as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 156 on Boxing Day.

The only highlight for Sri Lanka was a gritty 58 by Sangakkara, that also saw him become the 11th player in history to register 10,000 Test runs.

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