Clarke and Smith lift Australia


Published: Wednesday 10th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Michael Clarke battled through back pain and combined with Steven Smith to put Australia in firm control of the first Test against India on a rain-interrupted second day.

After a strong return to action for the first time since Phillip Hughes’ death on Monday, Australia moved onto 517 for seven thanks to seventh-wicket stand of 163 from Clarke and Smith.

Clarke departed for 128 late on after securing his 28th Test century, while Smith remains unbeaten on 162, but their progress was hampered by only 30.4 overs being played due to rainy conditions in Adelaide.

Australia resumed on 354 for six with Clarke – who had retired hurt on 60 on Monday – joining Smith out in the middle.

The start of play was delayed for 10 minutes due to a wet outfield – the first in a series of weather delays which ultimately did more to slow Australia’s progress than anything India could muster.

After fending off the opening four balls he faced without scoring, Clarke got himself into the blow with seven runs off four balls from Mohammed Shami.

He looked stiff, wearing a full back brace, but was finding ways to adjust even as he operated with a minimum of movement.

At the other end, Smith had added 26 to his overnight score to move on to 98, but was then forced to endure a lengthy rain delay which stretched into the afternoon session.

However, as soon as play did resume, Smith scored two off Varun Aaron to bring up his century. He marked it by jogging over to the giant 408 inscribed on the playing surface in tribute to Phillip Hughes, and he raised his bat to the skies before a lengthy embrace with Clarke.

The captain then set about chasing his own ton, scoring 12 off the next over from Karn Sharma to move on to 97.

Like Smith, he was left stuck on 98 when the rains came again, but after a shorter delay scored two quick singles to bring up triple figures.

There was no grand gesture from Clarke, who has been hugely affected by the loss of his close friend, but after acknowledging the crowd and kissing his helmet he took a long moment to reflect before taking guard once more.

There was then a frightening moment when Smith smashed a low shot straight back at Aaron, whose natural reflex saw him go for a catch and ultimately deflect it for a four, thought it might have been much worse.

The umpires were also forced to take evasive action as Smith continued to smack the ball around the Adelaide Oval and pile up the runs, although he was lucky to survive when he offered a stumping chance while on 131, grateful that Wriddhiman Saha could not take the ball cleanly.

Australia had reached 473 for six when the rain came again, after which play only resumed for a short spell before the umpires called stumps due to bad light.

There was enough time for Clarke to hit two further boundaries, before wearily departing for 128.

The Australian skipper batted Karn Sharma through mid-wicket for four and then pulled Ishant Sharma on the front foot an over later, before finally falling prey to Karn Sharma in the 120th over.

Clarke went for the sweep but was caught at fine leg by Cheteshwar Pujara. After a draining week and a physically demanding few hours the Baggy Greens’ captain looked shattered as he walked off.

Mitchell Johnson came out to the middle and faced just three balls, making no runs, before play was stopped.

Published: Wednesday 10th December 2014 by The News Editor

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