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Clarke and Ponting flay India with double tons

Australian captain Michael Clarke (left) shakes hands with teammate Ricky Ponting as they walk off for lunch during the second day of the fourth Test against India in Adelaide on Wednesday. (REUTERS)

By Agencies

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke hit masterful double centuries to drive Australia to 604 for seven declared before their bowlers reduced India to 61 for two at the end of second day of the fourth Test on Wednesday. 

Sachin Tendulkar, who had scored 12 not out, and Gautam Gambhir, unbeaten on 30, were at the crease at stumps after the in-form Australian pace attack had dismissed stand-in India captain Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid. 

Already 3-0 down in the series after three emphatic defeats, India had laboured in the field in the morning as Clarke and his predecessor as Australia captain Ponting ruthlessly, and often stylishly, drove home their advantage.    

Clarke, who hit a brilliant 329 in the Sydney Test, made 210 and Ponting scored 221 in a record fourth-wicket stand of 386, albeit on a flat wicket at a sweltering Adelaide Oval. 

They were separated two balls after lunch when Clarke was bowled by Umesh Yadav and three more wickets fell before Australia declared shortly after a Ryan Harris six had taken them past 600 seven overs into the final session. 

"It was about trying to get to 600 and we still had plenty of time left in the day, which is pleasing," Clarke told reporters.  

"We scored quite quickly in our innings and to take those two key wickets today is a really good start for us but there's a lot of work still to be done. 

"It's about as good a batting wicket as you'll get so we're in for a good workout."   

Paceman Peter Siddle made a good start to the job when he struck in the first ball of his first over to remove Sehwag caught and bowled for 18. 

In the next over, Dravid was bowled for the sixth time in seven innings in the series, deceived by a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery that struck the Indian on his elbow and hit the stumps. 

Indian paceman Ishant Sharma (0-100) was left grasping at the straws of history, recalling his country's victory at the Adelaide Oval eight years ago. 

"There is a positive, even in 2003 they scored 550-odd runs and we won the game from there," he said.  

"Everyone is positive and looking forward to a good next three days." 

After resuming at 335-3, Clarke and Ponting had passed their own record partnership for Australia against India of 288, which they set in the Sydney Test, inside the first hour. 
The next mark to fall was the all-time record partnership for the Adelaide Oval, which came when they exceeded the 341 that Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock shared in 1964. 

Clarke brought up his second double century of the series just before lunch with two runs through mid-wicket, celebrating with his ritual kiss of the insignia on his helmet. 

The 30-year-old took 361 minutes and 255 balls to reach the milestone with another imperious display, which included 25 fours and one six.  
Ponting was forced to wait nervously through the lunch break for his second double century against India at Adelaide after the 242 he hit in a losing cause in 2003. 

The sixth double century of his career finally came courtesy of a trademark pull to midwicket for his 21st four in the 459-minute, 357-ball innings and the celebration left no doubt what it meant to the Tasmanian. 
Clarke had already departed after being bowled between bat and pad by paceman Yadav, the first wicket to fall in more than three sessions. 

The stand was two runs short of the Australian record for a fourth-wicket partnership of 388 set by Donald Bradman and Bill Ponsford at Headingly in 1934. 

Mike Hussey, who had waited six hours and 20 minutes to bat, made a quickfire 25 from 33 balls before a brilliant Gambhir throw saw him run out. 

Ponting followed soon afterwards when another pull shot off Zaheer Khan found a leaping Tendulkar on the boundary. 

Spinner Ravi Ashwin's carrom ball accounted for Peter Siddle (2) to give wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, standing in for banned India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, his first Test catch. 
Brad Haddin, who hit a six to open his account, had made 42 not out and shared a 71-run partnership with Harris (35 not out) when Clarke called them back to the dressing room.