India toil in Adelaide
India’s hopes of avoiding a series whitewash at the hands of Australia faded as Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke each progressed to double hundreds on day two of the final Test in Adelaide.
The middle-order duo, unbeaten on 137 and 140 respectively overnight, extended their mammoth fourth-wicket stand to 386 before Clarke, who plundered a triple century earlier in the series, was bowled by Umesh Yadav for 210.
Ponting, enjoying a long-awaited return to form in recent weeks, eventually fell for 221 and Australia subsequently declared on 604 for seven before reducing India to 61 for two at stumps.
Already 3-0 down in the series, the tourists struggled to make any impression for much of the day and face an uphill battle to salvage a positive result from the match.
Ponting and Clarke’s partnership represented the highest in all Tests at the Adelaide Oval and the best in matches between Australia and India.
Both batsmen were untroubled as they batted throughout the morning, although Clarke then fell immediately after lunch as Yadav got one to nip back off a length.
Ponting was on 199 at that stage and soon brought up his sixth Test double ton with a crunching front-foot pull off Yadav.
Shortly after Mike Hussey had been run out for 25, by an excellent piece of work at silly point from Gautam Gambhir, Ponting’s marathon 404-ball innings came to an end.
After surviving chances to Ishant Sharma and VVS Laxman on 186 and 215, Australia’s former captain picked out Sachin Tendulkar at deep midwicket off Zaheer Khan.
Peter Siddle fell cheaply to Ravichandran Ashwin, but Brad Haddin, with 42 not out, and Ryan Harris, who struck an unbeaten 35, helped the hosts beyond 600 prior to Clarke’s declaration early in the evening session.
Not for the first time in this series, India soon hit trouble at the start of their first innings, losing stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag for 18 in the sixth over.
Siddle was the man to make the breakthrough, with his first delivery, the seamer leaping to his right to take a leading edge with one hand.
There was further joy for Australia in the next over when Rahul Dravid was bowled, for the sixth time on this tour, by Ben Hilfenhaus. The veteran number three could consider himself somewhat unfortunate on this occasion, the ball ricocheting off his elbow and onto the stumps.
Gambhir, who ended the day on 30, and Tendulkar mad it through to the close unscathed, but plenty of hard work lay ahead for India.