Michael Clarke broke Ricky Ponting’s Australian record for calendar-year runs as he hit a century to help his team take control of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka.
Australia captain Clarke, the No. 1-ranked Test batsman, top scored with 106 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to help lift the home team to 440-8 at stumps on day two, a lead of 284 with two first-innings wickets remaining.
Clarke shared a 194-run stand with Shane Watson, a record for the fourth wicket in Tests at the MCG, while lower-order batsman Mitchell Johnson hit an unbeaten 73 to boost the total as Australia seeks a series-clinching victory after winning the opener.
“If Mitch can get a hundred that’ll be lovely and hopefully we can bowl Sri Lanka out and not have to bat again,” Clarke said in a televised interview.
Johnson shared a 58-run stand with Peter Siddle after the Australians lost three wickets for the addition of four runs as Sri Lanka fought back in the middle session. Watson got out for 83 when he failed to control a pull shot, missing the chance to register his first hundred since October 2010.
Clarke, 31, earlier scored his fifth Test century of the year to take his run tally in 2012 to 1,595, surpassing Ponting’s national record of 1,544 set in 2005. Ponting retired from international cricket earlier this month.
Clarke had begun the match needing 56 runs to break Ponting’s mark in Australia’s final Test of 2012. His innings ended when he was caught by rival skipper Mahela Jayawardene in the slips off Shaminda Eranga.
“When I’ve got in I’ve just tried to cash in,” added Clarke, who’s averaging 106.33 this year. “With experience and learning my own game, I’ve probably just worked out how hard I need to push myself training-wise and preparation-wise to be in a decent place to come out and perform.”
Sri Lanka, which has failed to win any of its previous 11 Tests in Australia, was bowled out for 156 on day one after winning the toss.
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