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Another ton for Clarke

Sportal December 27, 2012, 3:32 pm
Michael Clarke

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Michael Clarke did what Shane Watson failed to do as there was finally some joy for Sri Lanka on the second day of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

Clarke (106) converted his half-century into a first hundred at the MCG, while Watson (83) fell short as Australia moved on to 6-332 at tea on Thursday with a lead of 176 on the first innings.

Mitchell Johnson (11) and Mike Hussey (seven) are unbeaten at the crease as Australia remain on track to bat Sri Lanka out of the match and claim a series clinching victory.

But at least the tourists can argue they have shown some fight on the second day, after Clarke and Watson put them to the sword during the opening session.

The duo put on 194 - a record for the fourth-wicket at the MCG - as an undermanned Sri Lanka battled to remain competitive against two batsmen set at the crease and intent on scoring quickly.

But after Clarke broke Ricky Ponting's record for most Test runs by an Australian in a calendar year and then brought up his hundred with his 13th of 14 boundaries of his innings, Sri Lanka fought back with three wickets in quick succession.

Clarke chased a wide one from Shaminda Eranga (1-90) and was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at second slip, before Watson, in similar style to David Warner (62) on the opening day, holed out to Thilan Samaraweera at deep square leg off the bowling of Dhammika Prasad (3-81) in the next over as Australia's score fell quickly to 5-313.

It was a poor shot from Watson and the Australian vice-captain will rue the fact that he missed a golden chance to record his third Test century, having looked at ease in registering his 19th career fifty.

When Matthew Wade followed Watson and Warner's lead and hooked a short one from Prasad to Eranga on the boundary Australia were reduced to 6-315 and Sri Lanka were finally starting to show a bit of life.

The tourists also could have had Hussey late in the session, but the veteran Australian was dropped by stand-in keeper Kumar Sangakkara off the bowling of Rangana Herath (0-64) and then survived a close call for LBW on the very next delivery.

Sangakkara is keeping wickets for Prasanna Jayawardene (thumb), who was injured when dismissed by Mitchell Johnson on the opening day of play.

Sri Lanka also picked up another injury early on the second day when paceman Chanaka Welegedara (0-38) hurt his hamstring following a delivery in the first hour of play.

That has left Mahela Jayawardene without too many bowling options and the Sri Lankan captain has used Herath for the majority of the day from the members end of the ground.

Herath has bowled without much luck, with a couple of close LBW calls going against him and his skipper guilty of putting down Clarke when the Australian was on 54 and just two runs short of breaking Ponting's record of 1544.

On Wednesday, a crowd of over 65,000, almost double of what looks to be in the ground on the second day, 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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