Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 2nd day December 15, 2012

Clarke springs a surprise, twice

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the second day of the Hobart Test

Surprise of the day
The way Australia's newspapermen waxed eloquent about Michael Clarke overnight when he was 70 not out, it seemed a century and more was as inevitable as rain in Hobart. This assumption looked a safe one based on Clarke's stellar 2012, in which he has so far piled up 1432 runs, including three double-centuries and a triple, against India at the SCG in January. But the Bellerive Oval pitch seemed a little zippier and seamer-friendly on the second morning, and in a swift spell Shaminda Eranga extracted enough life to deceive even Clarke, coaxing an edge that was well held at slip. So the expectation of another captain's century was confounded, at least for today.

Drop of the day
For 170 balls, Michael Hussey made barely the ghost of a mistake on his way to 96, maintaining a fearsome record of runs against Sri Lanka. But to the 171st he swivelled to pull Eranga, did not get on top of the bounce, and Angelo Mathews hovered under the chance in the deep. He intercepted it right on the boundary, but spilled the chance, the ball bobbling onto the turf and then over the rope. Hussey celebrated his fifth century in six Tests against Sri Lanka. In the one Test Hussey did not pass three-figures against Sri Lanka, he had made 95.

Decision of the day
As the best captains tend to do, Clarke often makes decisions in advance of observers reaching a consensus on what he might do. Hussey and Matthew Wade were having very little trouble at all against Sri Lanka's bowlers, rolling along at better than five runs per over following the rain, and might have kept batting all day. Instead Clarke called them in 40 minutes before tea the moment the tally reached 450, catching Sri Lanka's fielders by surprise. Clarke was not rewarded with a wicket in the period up to the interval, but his closure has left the game open to a result despite the chance of more rain interruptions over the next three days.

Spin of the day
Tillakaratne Dilshan does not take kindly to being tied down, and he was helped on his way in the evening by an unfortunate piece of fielding from Ben Hilfenhaus. Posted to fine leg, Hilfenhaus' eyes briefly lit up when Dilshan hooked at Peter Siddle and sent a top edge in his direction. But the ball died late in its path towards Hilfenhaus, and on pitching short of the crouching bowler it spun past his hands and over the rope. Siddle was aghast, but soon had the consolation of Kumar Sangakkara's wicket.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here