Clarke paints Australia 'in the pink' at Sydney

Biswajit Jha/

Sydney: Skipper Michael Clarke scored an unbeaten triple ton while Hussey scored an unconquered century to help Australia take a decisive lead of 468 runs on Day 3 of the Sydney Test on Thursday.

In reply, India were 114/2 in their second essay, still 354 runs shy of avoiding an innings defeat with two whole days to spare. Gautam Gambhir remained unbeaten on 68 while Sachin Tendulkar was not out on 8 at stumps.

Scorecard: India Vs Australia»

Australia declared their first innings at a huge 659/4 in reply to India's 191. Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey remained unbeaten on 329 and 150, respectively. They stitched an unbeaten mammoth 4th wicket partnership of 334 which almost sealed the deal for the hosts.

Clarke’s declaration of the innings came as a surprise to many as he did not go for the records and instead gave his team more than enough time to bowl out India and win the Sydney Test. With five more runs he could have surpassed the highest individual score of arguably world’s all time best batsman-Don Bradman; with 51 more runs he could have been Australia's highest individual scorer and with 71 more runs, he could have been the highest individual scorer in an innings in Tests.

Whether it was a mark of respect to the greatest batsman or putting the team’s cause above the personal milestone, the way he declared the Australian innings certainly took everyone off guard and made an interesting topic of discussion.

After conceding a lead of 468, India again started poorly, losing maverick opener Virender Sehwag early on. After his departure, Gambhir and Dravid steadied the Indian ship with an 82-run fighting stand before the latter got bowled again for 29. Dravid, who was moving his feet beautifully during his stay, was bowled through the gate, a mode of dismissal which had been haunting technically correct Dravid in this series.

Meanwhile, struggling Indian opener Gambhir finally revived himself by scoring a well-timed counter-attacking fifty. Gambhir, who has not been scoring runs and was on the verge of losing his place in the team in the next Test, proved his critics wrong with a fine innings.

Unlike what several critics thought, his problem was more of a mental rather than technical. He got runs once he changed his approach.

He came out with a very positive intent today, showing the full face of the bat on most occasions. Unlike the last three innings Down Under, he never looked tentative and avoided the customary poke outside the stumps. His innings is the only good thing the ongoing Sydney Test has offered to India so far.

Earlier, Clarke started Day 3 where he left off yesterday. The Australian captain became the only sixth Australian to score a triple century in Test cricket.

Clarke’s knock, which was also the highest individual score at SCG, was also the best innings by an Australian captain at home, surpassing Don Bradman's 270 at the MCG in 1937.

The marathon innings came off 468 balls and it consisted of 39 fours and a six.

Mike Hussey also joined the Australian run-feast by scoring a superlative century. It was Hussey who was more aggressive of the two, hitting boundaries off the flighted balls provided by the Indian spinners. Hussey’s 16th Test ton came from 188 balls. He hit 11 silken fours and a six to reach the century.

While everybody was concentrating on Clarke’s triple ton, Hussey was silently moving fast. He reached 150 in no time. And once he reached the milestone, Clarke declared the innings exactly one hour after the lunch break with a lead of 468 runs.

It was the same story in the morning session on Day 3 of the Sydney Test. Resuming on 482/4, Australia dominated the first session again. The two overnight batsmen- captain Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey- had no problem in plundering runs against a hapless Indian bowling.

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