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10 December 2023

Australia strike early after Clarke triple ton

Australia's captain Michael Clarke celebrates reaching a triple century against India during the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday. (REUTERS)

By Reuters

Australia struck an early blow, removing opener Virender Sehwag as India on Thursday fought desperately to save the second Test in Sydney after Michael Clarke scored 329 in a mammoth 659 for four declared.

Captain Clarke declared Australia's first innings closed for a huge lead of 468 runs on day three of the match.

Clarke's unbeaten innings leaves him behind only Matthew Hayden (380), Mark Taylor (334) and Don Bradman (334) in the all-time list for Australian batsmen.

Mike Hussey was beaten on 150.

India had an early stumble in their second innings when Sehwag was brilliantly plucked from the air by the athletic David Warner at point off Ben Hilfenhaus for four to leave the tourists a shaky 18 for one.

At tea, India, who have never won a Test series in Australia, were 53 for one with Gautam Gambhir on 39 and Rahul Dravid not out seven.

Clarke's score ranked joint 14th in the list of highest Test innings behind West Indian world record holder Brian Lara's 400.

He was at the crease for 617 minutes. He faced 468 balls with 39 fours and one six.

Clarke surpassed V.V.S. Laxman's 281 for the highest individual score in Australia-India Tests and also overtook the great Bradman's 270 as the best by an Australian captain in a home Test, a record that had stood since 1936.

The Australian skipper received a standing ovation when he eclipsed the highest score at the SCG, fittingly in its 100th Test match, of 287, registered by Englishman Reg Foster in 1903.

Clarke shared in a record 334-run unbroken stand with Hussey for any Australian wicket against India, eclipsing the 288 Clarke set with Ricky Ponting for the fourth wicket on the previous day.

Australia's total ranked second only to their 674 in India Tests at Adelaide in 1947-48.

Hussey's innings took a back seat to Clarke's prodigious knock. He batted for 312 minutes, scoring his runs off 253 balls with 16 fours and a six.

It was Hussey's 16th century in his 68th Test match.