Clarke keeps Sri Lanka on back foot
Michael Clarke recorded his fifth Test century of 2012 and Mitchell Johnson added handy runs to his four first-innings wickets as Australia continued to dominate the second game with Sri Lanka in Melbourne.
Clarke contributed 106 - also his average in Tests this year - to a partnership of 194 with Shane Watson, who reached 83.
By stumps on day two, the hosts were 284 ahead on 440 for eight with Johnson, the pick of Australia’s bowlers, unbeaten on 73.
To make matters worse for Sri Lanka, whose wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene suffered a fractured thumb yesterday, pace bowler Chanaka Welegedara limped off with a torn right hamstring that will prevent him from bowling again in the match.
It was also later confirmed that the luckless Watson had picked up yet another injury, this time to his left calf.
There were no such issues for Clarke, who had been a doubt for this game himself due to a hamstring problem.
In moving to 56 shortly before lunch, the skipper passed predecessor Ricky Ponting’s record for the most runs by an Australian in a calendar year.
However, both he and Watson had survived chances in the previous over. Kumar Sangakkara, keeping in Jayawardene’s absence, missed an opportunity to stump Clarke off Rangana Herath, who then had Watson dropped at slip three balls later.
By the time Sri Lanka eventually claimed a breakthrough, Australia were in complete control, with their fourth-wicket pair having gained in confidence following a cautious start.
After bringing up his first hundred at the MCG, Clarke was dismissed when edging Shaminda Eranga to opposite number Mahela Jayawardene at first slip.
Watson fell soon after, caught on the hook off Dhammika Prasad with a third Test century seemingly there for the taking, and Matthew Wade departed in similar fashion for a single.
Yet Mike Hussey and Mitchell Johnson put on 61 to extend Australia’s lead before the former fell to a stunning one-handed catch by Herath at long-on.
Another fine piece of fielding, this time from Mahela Jayawardene diving to his left at second slip, accounted for Peter Siddle, but Johnson pressed on and had Nathan Lyon for company at the close.