MELBOURNE – Michael Clarke’s memorable 2012 continued as Australia dominated the second day of the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka today.
Clarke registered his first century at the MCG to break Ricky Ponting’s record for most Test runs by an Australian in a calendar year, while he shared a ground-best stand of 194 for the fourth wicket with Shane Watson.
And although Clarke eventually fell for 106 and Watson departed for 83, Australia were in a strong position at stumps – reaching 440-8 for a lead of 284 runs.
Having started the day on 150-3 – with Watson on 13 and Clarke on 20 – Australia were able to make good progress against the undermanned tourists, who lost Chanaka Welegedara to a hamstring injury early in the day.
Clarke, though, was dropped by Mahela Jayawardene off Rangana Herath when on 54 – just two runs shy of Ponting’s record of 1,544 runs.
And Clarke made Sri Lanka pay as he brought up his 22nd Test ton off 181 balls before the tourists rallied – with Australia going from 313-3 to 315-6
The skipper was the first to fall when he chased a wide one from Shaminda Eranga and was caught by Jayawardene at second slip. Watson followed as he holed out to Thilan Samaraweera at deep square leg off the bowling of Dhammika Prasad, while Matthew Wade scored just one before he was caught by Eranga off the same bowler.
Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson steadied the ship and helped to move the score on with a 61-stand for the seventh wicket.
Hussey had survived a few close calls as he was dropped by Kumar Sangakkara – keeping wicket after Prasanna Jayawardene damaged his thumb on the opening day – off Herath and then survived a loud shout for lbw on the next delivery.
However, Herath finally got some reward as he held on to an amazing one-handed catch to remove Hussey for 34 off Tillakaratne Dilshan, while Peter Siddle was dismissed for 13 by Eranga.
Johnson, though, continued to frustrate the visitors as he reached 73 not out at the close.