Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 2nd day January 25, 2012

Clarke and Ponting double-tons keep Australia on top


India 2 for 61 (Gambhir 30*, Sehwag 18) trail Australia 7 for 604 dec (Ponting 221, Clarke 210) by 543 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Michael Clarke entered this Test with a whitewash on his mind. After two days, he could hardly have hoped for Australia to be in a stronger position to push for it. A day that started with Clarke and Ricky Ponting both bringing up double-centuries and producing the highest Test partnership ever recorded at the Adelaide Oval ended with India two wickets down, and still 543 runs in arrears.

Of course, Australia lost three top-order men in the first session of the match and it didn't hurt them, but after nearly 11 hours of roasting in the field, India's batsmen must find some energy on the third day to match Australia. At stumps, Sachin Tendulkar was on 12 and Gautam Gambhir had reached 30, with India on 2 for 61, and on the best batting pitch of the tour India needed someone to bring up the team's first century of the series.

Already they had lost Virender Sehwag, who was brilliantly caught by Peter Siddle off his own bowling on 18. Flat-footed and stuck to the crease, Sehwag toe-edged a ball high to the right of Siddle, who thrust his hand up and pulled in one of the best catches of the summer, and nobody was happier than Ed Cowan, the man who dropped a regulation chance at midwicket when Sehwag had 5.

India were 2 for 31 when Rahul Dravid (1) was bowled for the sixth time in the series, the victim of a strange occurrence when a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery ricocheted off his elbow and down on to the stumps. The Australians hadn't found much swing in the hot Adelaide conditions, but the two breakthroughs gave them a strong start after the outstanding work of their own batsmen.

By pushing the total to 7 for 604 before Clarke declared the innings closed, Australia gave themselves a chance of a third innings victory in the series, something they haven't achieved in more than 60 years. India haven't lost three Tests in a series by an innings in more than 50 years. There's plenty of cricket to be played before such a scenario becomes a realistic possibility, but the groundwork had been laid.

The 386-run partnership between Ponting and Clarke was the fourth-highest of all time for Australia in Test cricket, and all three of the stands above them on the list featured Don Bradman. Clarke became the third player in Test history, after Bradman and Wally Hammond, to score a triple-hundred and a double-century in the same series.

For the sixth time in the series Australia batted through an entire session, this time the first of the day, without losing a wicket. The runs flowed freely as India wilted. Clarke and Ponting went to lunch already having compiled the highest partnership ever recorded in an Adelaide Test, beating the previous record of 341 set by South Africa's Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock in 1963-64. By then, Clarke had his double-ton and Ponting was within touching distance of his.

Clarke brought up his with a clip for two through midwicket off R Ashwin and celebrated another monstrous innings in the series: after his unbeaten 329 in Sydney, he finished this innings with 557 runs already in 2012. All through 2011, he managed 618. He didn't add to his score after lunch; on 210, Clarke was bowled by Umesh Yadav, who kept at the batsmen, despite leaking runs.

Ponting was on 199 when Clarke departed, and his sixth Test double-century came with a strong front-foot pull to the boundary off Yadav. For a while, it looked like Ponting would go on to register his highest Test score, which stood at 257, but eventually the pull brought him undone when he picked out the deep midwicket, Sachin Tendulkar, who took a well-judged catch jumping to his left.

Already India had removed Michael Hussey for 25 with a very sharp piece of work from Gambhir at silly point. Hussey pushed the ball and took off anticipating a single, but Gambhir was good enough to collect the ball cleanly and aware enough to flick it onto the stumps, catching Hussey short.

It was an example of how India needed to field; half-chances had to be grabbed. There weren't always. Ponting was put down on 215 when VVS Laxman at midwicket grassed a chance off the bowling of Ashwin and Ishant Sharma had missed the chance for a return catch when Ponting had 186, the ball struck back at a catchable pace but the bowler not alert enough to get his hands to it.

In the end, India picked up a few wickets, including one off a good carrom ball from Ashwin that kissed the edge of Peter Siddle's bat and was taken by Wriddhiman Saha - his first Test catch. By that stage, India had taken 3 for 13, but Brad Haddin (42 not out) and Ryan Harris (35 not out) refused to make life easy for India and batted through until the declaration came after tea.

For India, it was another dreadful day. The film critic Leonard Maltin's entire review of Police Academy 4 was: "More of the same, only worse". It could also have been said of India in the field, particularly in the morning. The bowling was too often insipid, and Sehwag's captaincy uninspiring and conservative.

At times, he did not appear to think taking a wicket was that important. Ashwin was given fields that encouraged him to bowl straight, and both Clarke and Ponting picked off the runs with ease. Ashwin finished with an unwanted record of his own, his 3 for 194 the most expensive bowling analysis ever recorded in an Adelaide Test, but he had his captain to thank - or blame - for much of that.

By stumps, it was all down to India's batsmen. The pitch had plenty of runs in it. India just needed their batsmen to find them.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • A on January 26, 2012, 20:23 GMT

    Aussie top 3 fail again. That's surprising that.

  • Syed Sharful on January 26, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    India has proved that they are now unfit to play Test matches with a good team overseas.They should therefore refrain themselves from playing overseas and go back to India to start afresh.Australia did not ask India to follow on only to toy with the Indian bowlers in the field today and tomorrow.What a humiliation !!

  • Dummy4 on January 26, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Well is this such a disciplined attack or just poor batting from the Indians. Only time will tell how far the Aussies have made progressed from their slump. They tour West Indies after this, so another easy outing for them. Having said that, no body would have expected India to spiral down so quickly. World beaters some 8 months ago and now doubt if they could compete even with Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe (with due respect to them though).

  • Mohammed Ashfaq on January 26, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    I smell there is something wrong between the board and Bhajji and also between Dhoni and board they want to weaken Dhoni.

  • Dummy4 on January 26, 2012, 2:16 GMT

    its really hurting the indian fans like myself with the proceedings so far by the indian side batting and bowling. we indian fans would like to see some fightback atleast from our team. I do know how seriously they are taking this match, but team india is continuously disappointing us. Really felt bad.. why the selectors dint gave a chance to rohit sharma? after a loss like 3 - 0 nothing changed in the lineup. totally ashamed of the selectors.

  • krishnakanth on January 26, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    thats it then. Some of us are still foolishly thinking of sachins hundred again. I hope now he never gets it.That way we start focussing on victories than hundreds.

  • Santanu on January 26, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    The ability of this Indian team to absorb humiliation is unprecedented. Our propensity for hero worship allows cricketers well past their prime to retain their places in the team and build records that they would not have the chance to do in any other team. What we play in India is clearly not the same game they play in Australia and England.

  • A on January 26, 2012, 1:48 GMT

    Abject surrender. That is what is really heartbreaking from a die hard Indian fan's perspective. Hats off to the Aussies. Professional, back breaking effort from the Aussies bowlers. Indian bowlers - so many lose balls, no discipline. All fat, rich and happy with their IPL contracts. The difference in fielding is also appalling. And captaincy? Less said the better. But, I do believe that once the aging superstars, who have done well abroad (stop that old carping guys, we have beaten you in your respective home turfs), go away, India will rebuild and will be back. Structural changes are required though. Congrats Aussies. You do deserve to thrash us 4-0, what a pathetic bunch. Apologies to all the fans who have turned up for such a one-sided contest from us.

  • Ramesh on January 26, 2012, 1:36 GMT

    SRT can forget test hundreds forever. Now, if India can "afford" his services in ODIs (Just because so many youngsters are waiting to play), may be he can try achieving that through ODIs later this year...

    This match is going to be another dumb one. On the field, Indian team always waits for opposition to declare, and while batting, they want to get all out as quickly as possible :) :) !

    NZ vs ZIM is a better watch than this one !! Possibly ZIM can fight better than India...

  • Peter on January 26, 2012, 1:22 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge. I see you're still consuming those sour grapes by the bucketload. Have you forgotten the records of your batsmen? They are being undone by an outstanding bowling attack, far better than your perceived "average team". India's role in the world cricketing pecking order is falling & should be sitting around 4, 5 or 6, with both Pakistan & NZ on the rise.

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