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The Bulletin by Jenny Thompson
November 17, 2007
Once upon a time there were some Australian batsmen who ... It's becoming a familiar fairytale of big hitting against Sri Lanka - or a recurring nightmare depending on your view - and the second day in Hobart was no different, as Australia racked up 5 for 542 before declaring.
Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey pushed them past 400 before Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds weighed in with half-centuries, Symonds' second in a row. Gilchrist was in imperious form, cracking 67 from 77 balls, including three sixes which made him the only player to hit 100 Test sixes.
Two of his aerial on-side sixes against Muttiah Muralitharan were reminiscent of his destruction against another slow bowler, Monty Panesar, in last year's Ashes in Perth, but once Symonds brought up his fifty, Ricky Ponting called in his troops before Gilchrist could do further damage.
Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson were then immediately on the money, troubling Marvan Atapattu and Michael Vandort, who had been boosted to opener ahead of Sanath Jayasuriya, with their movement. Vandort survived on nought when Ponting couldn't clutch a hard chance off Johnson above his head at second slip. But the pair weathered a stormy 12 overs before bad light brought an early close.
As on the first day, the Test had been mirroring Brisbane, with Hussey and Clarke reaching their 100 partnership before lunch, before Hussey fell to Dilhara Fernando in the afternoon. Symonds then joined Clarke as they pressed the accelerator.
Then came an adjustment to the script, with Lasith Malinga finally striking to remove Clarke short of his hundred. At 5 for 447, however, Australia were hardly troubled and just to prove the point, Gilchrist stroked two fours from his first two Test deliveries since January.
Symonds had done the same, signalling both batsmen's intents and they added an unbeaten 95. The pair entertained in their usual fashion, though Symonds picked up a foot injury early in his innings turning for a second, to further solidify their position and push Australia past the 500-barrier for the second Test in a row.
Gilchrist's attacking instincts did get the better of him, off the luckless Muttiah Muralitharan who induced a top-edge swish that fell into no-man's land, but he remained unbeaten.
They weren't the only pair with their eye in. Clarke continued to bat well with 71, following his hundred in the first Test. Everything about his game was in order: since being dropped he has come back strongly and removed the element of risk in his game.
He did give one chance, but not before making his fifty. And when he finally fell, chasing one down leg off Malinga, he was understandably disappointed. "Worked my backside off to get 70, then gave it away," he admitted, before brightening. "Good job I did, though, as Gilly and Symonds were on fire!"
With Australia in control from the first day, Sri Lanka badly needed a break. Unfortunately, they got a stress fracture instead; Farveez Maharoof's injury ruling him out of the attack. With their pace options down to two, Jayawardene desperately shuffled his bowlers but chances remained thin on the ground, and one was spilled - at bat-pad, off Muralitharan when Clarke was on 69. Muralitharan had troubled Clarke in the morning, pinning him down with six men on leg, and inducing some uppish strokes.
On a pitch that remained good for batting, Hussey's morning session was unusually subdued, bar a slog-swept six off Muralitharan, before striking out after rain delays in the afternoon. Fernando, bowling slower because of an ankle complaint, continued to toil and finally brought down the curtain on Hussey's back-to-back hundreds for 132.
After the declaration came a change of tone, from the sublime to survival, with Lee and Johnson hurtling in. Sri Lanka once again have a mountain to climb.
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