Australia captain Michael Clarke hits a boundary on day two
of the second test against Sri Lanka at the Melbourne
Cricket Ground. REUTERS/David Gray
Michael Clarke and Shane Watson frustrated Sri Lanka's
bowlers for a whole session to push Australia to a first
innings lead of 82 at lunch, as the tourists' woes were
compounded by injury on day two of the second test.
Australia captain Clarke raised his third consecutive
half-century and became his country's highest test run-scorer
in a calendar year, surpassing Ricky Ponting's 1,544 runs in
Clarke was on 56 and Watson on 60 as the pair added 88 runs
in the morning to drive Australia's total to 238-3 on another
day of brilliant sunshine at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Sri Lanka, skittled for 156 on day one, face a long day in
the field, with the drop-in pitch drying out in hot northerly
winds and with seamer Chanaka Welegedera off the ground
injured after straining a hamstring.
Clarke and Watson resumed with the score 150-3 and negotiated
a watchful opening phase of play before gradually hitting out
before the drinks break. The pair had built a 121-run
partnership from 270 balls by the interval.
Clarke, the year's leading run-scorer in tests, smacked a
straight drive that slammed straight into Shaminda Eranga's
foot, leaving the paceman hopping and grimacing in pain down
Eranga exacted a modicum of revenge a few overs later,
hitting Clarke on the helmet with a mean short delivery, but
undid some of his menace in the same over with a careless
throw at the stumps that went straight to the boundary.
Watson's half-century was his first in eight innings, and a
welcome return to form after struggling to capitalise on a
number of starts.
The barrel-chested all-rounder smashed an imperious straight
six off spinner Rangana Herath that hit the sightscreen on
the full at the northern end.
Clarke's milestone, acknowledged with a wave of a bat at the
crowd and the dressing room, put him in fifth place for most
runs in a calendar year, but a big score in Melbourne could
see him move up another couple of places.
Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf holds the record of 1,788 runs
scored in 11 tests in 2006.