Captain Michael Clarke fought through pain to slam 128, while Steve Smith also produced a career-best hundred against India’s hapless bowling attack as Australia piled up a mammoth 517 for seven to take control of the first cricket Test on a rain-truncated second day, on Wednesday.
Clarke defied a back injury, which had forced him to leave the field yesterday, to notch up his 28th Test ton and combined with Smith (162 not out) to steer Australia to a commanding position on a stop-start day.
It was a frustrating day for the Indians as they leaked runs and managed to garner just one wicket at the far end of play by getting rid of Clarke with debutant Karn Sharma providing the breakthrough.
The Indian pace bowlers were far from impressive as they bowled a poor line and length and seldom troubled the Australians. Clarke, despite the back injury, managed to play his shots effortlessly, presented too often by loose deliveries by a rather listless attack. Smith, on the other hand, continued his good form to clinch his fifth Test century and was undefeated on a career-best 162 when play was called off early due to fading light and rain interruptions. In all, there were three rain interruptions during the day on which merely 30 overs could be bowled.
Emotions were still running high in the aftermath of Phillip Hughes’ death and both Clarke and Smith looked heaven-wards after completing their hundreds to pay tributes to the late batsman, who was named the honourary 13th man before the match. For the Indians, however, it was only frustration and Virat Kohli could barely hide his disappointment with his bowlers, who just could not find their rhythm.
The three quick wickets picked up last evening had brought the visitors back into the game but the momentum was quickly lost today when Clarke and Smith put on 163 runs for the seventh wicket, scoring at a brisk rate.
Nearly four hours of cricket were lost on day two as intermittent showers sent the players off the field time and again. The first break came in the morning session after the first hour’s play.
Nearly the entire post-lunch session, barring 30 minutes, was lost thereafter. The umpires decided to do away with the tea-break and play the last session of the day for an extended three hours.
But the rain gods didn’t allow that either with another delay meaning that only 40 minutes were played late in the evening. Only 30.4 overs were possible on the day as a result and Australia added 163 runs as Smith and Clarke, who struck 18 fours during his 163-ball stay, ran riot. Play was called off due to bad light at six in the evening then with Smith and Mitchell Johnson (0 not out) the unbeaten batsmen at the crease.
India’s miserable outing in the field continued over from day one as none of the bowlers impressed. Mohammad Shami (2-120) and Ishant Sharma (1-85) toiled hard but couldn’t make an impression on the Australian batsmen. Varun Aaron (2-136) continued to stray in line and length, proving expensive once again. Murali Vijay (0-29) was the other bowler tried.
The morning session had begun 10 minutes late due to rain, but when play did get underway, Clarke returned to the crease with a heavily strapped back on this second morning thanks to painkilling injections. The Australian skipper resumed his innings from 60 and added 51 runs for the seventh wicket with Smith before the first rain-break of the day. The two batsmen had started with a clutch of boundaries to begin with, five within the first four overs, pointing to the story of the Indian bowling in this first innings.
Smith was just two runs away from his fifth Test hundred when rain intervened, but play resumed for just 30-odd minutes to allow him to reach that landmark.
He got there in the 102nd over of the innings, off 172 balls, with 14 boundaries. Soon after the players walked off and an early lunch was taken to help matters, but to no avail.
When play resumed for another short while after the stipulated tea-time, it allowed Clarke to race to his 28th Test hundred. The brave captain got there in the 105th over, on the ninth delivery after play resumed. He faced 127 balls for it and hit 15 boundaries, receiving a standing ovation from the 15000-strong crowd at the Adelaide Oval.