Clarke deals the not-out punch
Exactly midway through the third day's proceedings Mike Hussey, who had completed his 150 a ball earlier, let an innocuous Virender Sehwag delivery pass through into the hands of MS Dhoni. Rohit Bhaskar reports. Scorecard |Numbers gameindia Updated: Jan 06, 2012 01:38 IST
Exactly midway through the third day's proceedings Mike Hussey, who had completed his 150 a ball earlier, let an innocuous Virender Sehwag delivery pass through into the hands of MS Dhoni. As the drinks were brought on to the field, Hussey and skipper Michael Clarke, who was unconquered on 329, waltzed towards the boundary. Going for a hard-earned drink, thought many in the stands and even the India fielders. In truth, Clarke had called time on his innings with a plethora of batting records on offer.
So surprised were the Indian players that they never got the time to shake hands with Clarke after his epic knock. 'I'll shake their hands after the win,' Clarke may have well thought.
With Brian Lara's Test batting record (400) not far away, Matthew Hayden's Australian Test record (380) in sight and the Australian captain's record of Mark Taylor and Don Bradman (334* and 334) within touching distance, the 30-year-old chose to put the team ahead of personal glory and declared on 659/4, a lead of 468, leaving his bowlers plenty of time to get rid of the Indian batsmen and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.
In reply, India were a chancy 114/2 with Gautam Gambhir, handed a life on 66, batting on 68 and Sachin Tendulkar giving him company on a testing 8 off 42 balls.
With the wicket having become completely flat and not even remotely resembling the first day pitch which saw 13 wickets tumble, Clarke and Hussey continued heaping tons of punishment, no pun intended, on the Indian bowlers.
Clarke started a bit slowly, taking almost the entire first session before hitting a four. Hussey had no such worries as he continued pulverising a demoralised Indian attack.
He drove Zaheer Khan to the boundary in back-to-back overs and cut Umesh Yadav for two more fours to pile on the Indians' misery. Clarke too got into the act, clipping Yadav for four after he again erred down leg-side.
Hussey soon reached his 16th Test hundred with a single. The attention was back on Clarke, who was fast-approaching a magical triple hundred, which he brought up with consummate ease and customary style by flicking Ishant Sharma past mid-wicket for four. The duo continued the run spree before Clarke called it a day, the duo having put on 334 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket.
Gambhir, who has had a torrid tour so far, adopted a positive approach and began with a couple of boundaries off James Pattinson in the first over of the innings. But Virender Sehwag continued with his shocking shot selection, flashing hard at a widish Hilfenhaus delivery, which was plucked out of thin air by David Warner at point.
Hilfenhaus got the second wicket as well as he exploited the gap between Rahul Dravid's bat and pad, the batsman getting bowled for the third time in four innings. Gambhir could have been back in the pavilion as well had Brad Haddin not dropped a regulation catch off Pattinson towards the end of the day's play.
Tendulkar, too, can count himself lucky after he almost inside-edged onto his stumps.
Even on a flat track, the Aussie pace trio were so disciplined that off the last 15 overs, an inordinate number of them maidens, India managed just 15 runs.