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Clarke century drives Australia to Brisbane lead

Australia captain Michael Clarke hit an unbeaten 139 to help his team storm past New Zealand's first innings tally to reach 345-5 at tea on the third day of the first test today.

cricket Updated: Dec 03, 2011 11:02 IST
Michael Clarke

South-African-cricketer-Vernon-Philander-L-celebrates-after-appealing-successfully-against-Australian-batsman-Ricky-Ponting-C-on-the-second-day-of-the-first-Test-match-at-Newlands-Stadium-in-Cape-Town

Australia captain Michael Clarke hit an unbeaten 139 to help his team storm past New Zealand's first innings tally to reach 345-5 at tea on the third day of the first test on Saturday.

After Ricky Ponting (78) and Mike Hussey (15) were dismissed in the morning, Clarke and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who was 47 not out, batted through the second session to give the hosts a 50-run lead.

Clarke was poised nervously on 99 at lunch but five balls after resuming, crunched a straight drive past bowler Doug Bracewell for four to claim his 17th test hundred and third in his last four tests.

The 30-year-old, who had started the day on 28, punched the air in delight and kissed the badge on his helmet to mark his first century as Australia captain on home soil.

Clarke was dropped on 85 by wicketkeeper Reece Young -- who was later forced to leave the field after being hit in the face by a ball -- and after he passed his milestone by Jesse Ryder, both off the bowling of luckless quick Bracewell.

Those spills followed Friday's stroke of fortune when Clarke was bowled on 23 but called back to the crease when television replays showed he had been dismissed by a no ball.

There were plenty of quality strokes as well as luck, however, not least the six Clarke hit back over the head of bowler Daniel Vettori to bring up his 22nd test half century in some style.

Ponting, who Clarke replaced as captain earlier this year, had earlier been hoping to notch up his first century since January 2010, but was able only to add 11 to his overnight total of 67 before being trapped lbw by Chris Martin.

Clarke and Mike Hussey added another 60 runs before the experienced Western Australian nicked an inside edge onto his pads and was caught by Ryder off the bowling of Vettori for 15.

Ponting's dismissal was a reward for some good tight bowling from the New Zealanders, even if Clarke decided to challenge Aleem Dar's decision with a TV referral that upheld the umpire's call.