Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 3rd day January 5, 2012

India facing ordeal after Clarke's triple-century


India 191 and 2 for 114 (Gambhir 68*, Tendulkar 8*) trail Australia 4 for 659 dec (Clarke 329*, Hussey 150*, Ponting 134, Zaheer 3-122) by 354 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Matthew Hayden, Mark Taylor, Don Bradman, Michael Clarke. That is the list of the men with the highest Test scores for Australia after a day on which Clarke not only wrote himself into the record books but also declared early enough to give his side a strong chance to push for victory over India. Clarke ended Australia's innings with his own score on 329, choosing neither to seek the glory of chasing down Brian Lara's world-record 400, nor even Taylor's iconic 334, the best score by an Australian Test captain.

Instead, he chose drinks in the middle session - the halfway point of the game - to declare Australia's innings closed at 4 for 659. His partner, Michael Hussey, had just reached 150. His thinking as he and Hussey walked off to a standing ovation from the SCG crowd was clear: on a good pitch, Australia would need time to bowl India out, especially with the chance of rain on the fourth day. Personal milestones meant nothing. The team goal was all that mattered.

By the close of play, Australia had two of the ten wickets they wanted. Virender Sehwag had gone in the fourth over of the innings. He flashed hard at a wide ball from Ben Hilfenhaus and was brilliantly snapped up at point by David Warner, whose split-second leap up and to his left allowed him to clasp his hands around the ball and remove India's quickest scorer for 4.

Hilfenhaus also accounted for Rahul Dravid, who was bowled for the third time in the series. On 29, Dravid moved his front foot across in line with off stump but left enough of a gap for the bowler to nip a ball in between bat and pad. The Wall is in desperate need of some mortar, but don't expect the former bricklayer Hilfenhaus to supply it.

At stumps, India were 2 for 114, still trailing by 354, and the Australians needed to find a way through the defences of Sachin Tendulkar, who was on 8. Unexpectedly, given his struggles in the first three innings of the series, it was Gautam Gambhir who was giving them the most trouble. He had reached 68 and was playing positively, having struck nine boundaries.

Already he had his highest Test score in more than a year. However, Gambhir had been given a life on 66 when James Pattinson found his outside edge in the dying stages of the day. Brad Haddin dived to his left and for the second time in the series moved too far; the ball sailed between his arms while his gloves kept moving further towards first slip.

The Australians knew it could be a costly let-off, for runs had flowed easily for Clarke and Hussey on the third day. In three hours of cricket, they added 177 for the loss of no wickets. In fact, from 4.43pm on the opening day of the match until 2.10pm on the third day, Australia had put on 622 runs for the loss of just one wicket, that of Ricky Ponting, who fell for 134 midway through the second afternoon.

And while Hussey finished with 150 not out, the third day was all about Clarke. He not only became the sixth man to score a Test triple-century for Australia, his innings was also the best by an Australian captain in a home Test, surpassing Bradman's 270 at the MCG in 1937. It also broke Tip Foster's 108-year-old record for the highest score in an SCG Test; his 287 on debut was passed when Clarke drove a boundary through extra cover.

That was a record that could not be overstated, especially in the SCG's 100th Test. Over the years, 3747 times batsmen have walked out on to the Sydney Cricket Ground to commence a Test innings. In all of those performances, nobody has ever scored as many as Clarke did over the past three days. He went to lunch on 293, and it took barely ten minutes after the break for his triple-century to arrive.

It came with a flick off his pads for a boundary off Ishant Sharma, an appropriate shot for Clarke had punished anything on his legs throughout the innings. In truth, there was hardly a region of the ground in which Clarke didn't score freely: he drove through off and down the ground, cut, pulled and glanced with ease. He was slow out of the blocks on the third morning, ensuring he got himself set again, but never did his innings stagnate.

He was helped by the presence of Hussey, who became the third centurion in Australia's innings. In a 334-run partnership with Clarke, Hussey kept the scoreboard ticking over at a reasonable rate. He brought up his 16th Test hundred with a single tickled towards third man off Sehwag's offspin shortly before lunch, and he pumped his fists with delight.

Although it was Hussey's fifth Test century since the start of the Ashes last summer, he had also fallen for three golden ducks during his past nine innings. At no did India seriously look like breaking the partnership, although R Ashwin bowled an impressive, searching spell in the opening session.

The action in the middle became so predictable that in the ABC radio commentary box Harsha Bhogle and Kerry O'Keeffe entertained listeners by challenging each other to eat the world's hottest chilli. Meanwhile, in the Channel Nine box, Ian Healy quizzed Bill Lawry on pigeon diseases.

But all eyes were fixed on Clarke as he reached his triple-century, and when he declared less than an hour later. It was a captain's innings in every way, just as he delivered in Cape Town against South Africa in November. Australia lost that Test. Clarke made sure they won't lose this one.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • narsimha on January 6, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    mr 5wombats , BAESED coparision of indian- pak cricket , now i believe why U are so alergetic to india , agreed the names u refered were great bowlers , no doubt, we lacked fast bowlers of thier past fame but their is no comparision in batting &spin dept thats why instead of having such great bowlers thier out side home record , wins in aus, eng , sa, wi are poor campared to india, we won more matches than pak in these countries , i think yr disliking india may be due tothe fact that yr team has not won any thing in india & baring last series in2 decades, the domination by india till yr so called great home vectories must be a reason for india not bieng in yr liking , cricket is a game of stats , and stats on this site indicate our teams over all performance out side home is better than pak ,specially in eng, aus, wi &sa ,baring imran all their famed bowlers were equally famous for wrong reasons,iNO NEED FOR ELOBRATIONS PROVE ME WRONG WITH STATS ,IF U CAN ,

  • Syed Sharful on January 6, 2012, 11:17 GMT

    Team India has finally been sized up by Team Australia.Australia will white wash Team India this time.India roars occasionally when they come across a weak team.Australia is not a week team.IT knows how to play cricket.

  • narsimha on January 6, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    MOHMADUSMANJI, Agreed over all performance in by-lateral matches pak dominated india but that was during 80s-90s, when even though we had great players they lacked killing instinct , agressiveness ,where as you had som e india specific players like salim malik wasimraja , zaheerabbas, atiqjaved saeedanwar who in so many ocations took away gaqmes from india friom no hope position the senario chachanged in the last decade , as you said in the contest of inds erlier performance , cant taken in present cotast the same applies to u as your teams domination over ind was age old story but stats will stay , reg coments on india , as we are doing badly ur having field day , alot of your people are making all sorts of negitive coments but when i gone through archies on yr 3-0, 5-0 white wash in aus, in 09-10, no indian comented this this way as we are not in the habit of poking in others affairs , or enjoying on niebhours adverseries ,

  • David on January 6, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    You cannot extrapolate anything positive for either side from this SCG Test. The wicket is stone dead, and only comes to life for 20 overs with the new ball because the surface is grassy. Before everyone gets carried away about "4-0" I maintain that these are two well-matched flawed teams. Tendulkar or Laxman could easily get a century (or a double, or a treble) on this track and the result may well be a draw. India are unlucky/careless to have already lost Dravid, because this pitch is tailor-made for their geriatric batsmen.

  • Roo on January 6, 2012, 1:46 GMT

    Haddin last year played 9 Tests with a batting average of 20.9, about the same as the Test averages of Johnson & Siddle - so he is not there for his batting skills... Been dropping catches regularly - so not there for his catching skills... Today - moving far too slowly - missed a hard catch for Siddle... Too many byes from frequent fumbles & slow to the ball movement... Just wondering what his actual job is?...

  • Rajesh on January 6, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    We wish Clarke for his fine innings and selfless decision to declare for the nation eventhough he may need another one session only to break the world record at the test match. Once again indian bowlers failed to break the partnership now all the burden goes to the batsman and now Gambhir got back the form with the fine knocks and Sachin may reach the record to score 100 and Laxman average at this SCG more than 90 and Virat Kholi can score 100 and ask all the australian fans to shut off their mouths and our great captain Dhoni also got the form at the first innings Ashwin may do something if all happend successfully we can bring Australians to bat again and ask Ashwin to spin the ball at the final day to save the game and live the series, still we have the oppourtunity to pull back the game to our side and prove once again we are the greatest team in the world

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 23:35 GMT

    pleaseREF MY Postings of 5 th jan at 10-18&10-25AMGMT. The situation prevailing for India now is so crucial that a WAYOUT from the grip of Aussies seems to be a Herculian Task. Since we ware not playing with a target now either to win of to be beaten the huge Deficit can not be taken in par with the Targets on the final day of A test match where history does not favour a target beyond 400 as healthy. But here we are fighting to survive.neither to win nor beaten,so there is still hope for us technically to score beyond the deficit & make Australia to bat again.That means either to force a draw or to avoid an Innings Defeat.if our efforts can be extended until the last session of 7 th with a possible lead of 125 to 150 runs,then something ,hopefully favour of India could happen.for this a second Innings score of593or618 is required. Can India [Sachin's,Gambhir,Kohli,Laxman,Dhoni,Aswin,Sahir,Sharma& Yadav together]do this to achieve the score with their combined effort? SreedharMundanat

  • Alistair on January 5, 2012, 23:33 GMT

    Loving the entertaining fantasy scenarios of Dinesh CC on here - good on you for injecting some humour in contrast to the amazingly bitter rants of the likes of Apoorv Pandey. And as someone else said, these forums seem to have started ranging all over the place and dragging several other less relevant teams into the discussion. I'm pleased to see that a good number of Indian fans are just saying well done to Australia. Well done from England too. The key to all this is bowling. Australia's is getting stronger and India's remains as weak as ever. Big runs from the Indian batsmen wouldn't have won this Test, just drawn it. There's too much discussion about whether this person or that would score runs in this county or that but to win you need to bowl the other side out twice and historically India just draw far too many games - a higher percentage (44) than any other nation and much higher than England and Australia. It suggests the problem with getting sides out isn't new.

  • Damien on January 5, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    @likeintcricket. I'm not sure what your point is, or even where you get your facts from, but Ponting and Hussey both have averages over 50.

  • zuber on January 5, 2012, 23:07 GMT

    why has India to be such a big losers abroad, even if a loss, but a fight should be there, like it was going in previous tours

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