Michael Clarke posted a successive double-century and David Warner and Michael Hussey unleashed whirlwind hundreds as Australia pummelled a demoralised South Africa in the second Test.
Clarke backed up his unbeaten double century from last week’s drawn Brisbane series-opener with another overpowering innings, becoming the first person in the history of Test cricket to post four 200s in a calendar year. Warner and Hussey compounded the misery for the Proteas with quickfire tons as Australia romped to 482 for five on the opening day at Adelaide.
It was just the fifth time in all Tests that Australia have scored more than 400 runs in a day’s play. Unchallengeable Clarke has yet to be dismissed in this series and has amassed 483 runs. He is also this year’s highest-scoring Test batsman with 1,265 runs at 140.6.
At close, he was unconquered on 224. Hussey was bowled by Dale Steyn in the final over for 103 after raising his 18th century with a six off dispirited leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who finished the day wicket-less for 159 off 21 overs.
“It’s always the plan when you get on top to stay on top,” said Clarke. “When you grab momentum you’ve got to hang onto it for as long as possible. It’s a really positive day for the batting group but we’ve got a lot of work to do over the next four days to have a crack at winning this Test match, that’s for sure.”
South Africa looked far from the world’s best team as their bowlers were hammered, after having the home side in trouble at 55 for three in the morning session.
It was a thoroughly miserable day for the Proteas with three of their leading bowlers having injury concerns — Vernon Philander withdrawing before the match with a back problem and Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn leaving the ground during the day with hamstring trouble. Kallis will not bowl again in the match but will be able to bat.
“The Australian batsmen put us under pressure on a good pitch and created some momentum — some very fast momentum,” said Proteas coach Gary Kirsten. “Sometimes in that situation it’s very difficult to pull it back. I don’t think we bowled well enough throughout the day to really put enough pressure on the batsmen at any time.”
Kirsten defends time off amid injuries
Meanwhile, Kirsten also defended giving his team time off before the second Adelaide Test after injuries to the three players.
“Losing Jacques to a type of injury he has never had in his career was a tough one,” Kirsten said. “We had four great days of prep leading into this game but it’s always a thing that will come up. Often when we’re home for a Test series we send players home and they come back two days ahead to prepare. There’s no exact science to it. You can always find a way to criticise in some department.
“But we’ve had a long year and we know we had back-to-back Test matches so we didn’t feel four days off was too much to give to the players. They put in hard yards for us this year. Every team goes through injuries at some point in time. I don’t think we’re unique to that.”
“It’s always the plan when you get on top to stay on top. When you grab momentum you’ve got to hang onto it for as long as possible. We’ve got a lot of work to do over the next four days.”
“The Australian batsmen put us under pressure on a good pitch and created some momentum — some very fast momentum. Sometimes in that situation it’s very difficult to pull it back.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2012.
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