Gilchrist hits 100th Test six for dominant Aussies

Published: Saturday, November 17, 2007, 17:13 [IST]
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Adam Gilchrist blazed his way to 100 Test sixes as Australia plundered Sri Lanka's bowlers for another 500-plus innings declaration.

Later he made a plea for the person in possession of the ball which brought up his 100th Test six at Bellerive Oval here Saturday to return it to him as a memento of his achievement.

Gilchrist claimed three sixes in his swashbuckling unbeaten knock of 67 to reach his century of sixes as the Australians powered to 542 for five declared after last week's declaration of 551 for four in Brisbane.

Skipper Ricky Ponting called a halt and looked to his fast bowlers Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson to ram home the advantage.

Openers Marvan Atapattu (18) and Michael Vandort (12) survived 12 overs before bad light ended play for the day with the tourists on 30 without loss.

Gilchrist reached an unprecedented 100 Test sixes with panache by hoisting Muttiah Muralitharan for consecutive sixes.

The dynamic-hitting wicketkeeper, this week voted Australia's greatest one-day cricketer, twice smacked the 703-Test wicket-taker over mid-wicket, the last one clearing the ground's perimeter fencing and forcing match officials to find a replacement ball.

"There aren't many things that you do in life that you're the only person ever to have done it, so with that in mind it would be nice to have the ball that notched that hundred," Gilchrist said.

"It's not a milestone you ever set out to achieve but it's unique.

"It's a split second, just a moment in time when you are the only person in the whole world who knows that you've hit it right in the middle. It's just the best feeling as a batsman because you've probably taken a bit of a risk."

It was a torrid day in the field for the beleaguered Sri Lankans, toiling away with only three bowlers for most of the time after paceman Farveez Maharoof failed to play with an ankle injury.

"He's had a scan yesterday and he's got crush fracture in his ankle and it means he will definitely be out of the England series (starting later this month) for at least four to five weeks," skipper Mahela Jayawardene said.

The Australians backed up their match-winning innings in last week's Brisbane Test canter with another day of batting carnage.

Symonds and Gilchrist took to the Sri Lankan bowling after Phil Jaques (150) and Michael Hussey (132) plundered centuries.

Gilchrist breezed to an unbeaten 67 off 77 balls with seven boundaries and three sixes and Andrew Symonds 50 off 71 balls with four fours and a six. They sailed along in an unbroken 95-run partnership off 125 balls.

Australia's domination and subsequent declaration almost certainly spelt the end of Muralitharan's quest for six more wickets to break Shane Warne's world record of 708 wickets, symbolically in Warne's backyard.

It is the final match of the two-Test series and with Sri Lanka's batsmen under pressure the spinner is unlikely to get a bowl again in the Hobart Test.

The Sri Lankans were buried by an innings and 40 runs in last week's first Test and have so far showed no discernible sign of improvement in Hobart.

"It is a pretty good score on this wicket. It is a flat wicket and we need to do all the hard work tomorrow and make sure we don't lose early wickets," Jayawardene said. "We have to try to bat through the day and see where we are at."

Maharoof's setback heaped extra pressure onto the Sri Lankan bowlers with Malinga finishing with 1-156 off 35 overs, Dilhara Fernando 2-131 off 26 overs and Muralitharan 1-140 from 46 overs.

The remarkable Hussey nudged his Test average to 84.63 before he fell leg before wicket to Fernando for 132.

Hussey ranks second only to Don Bradman (99.94) with the highest Test average from a minimum of 20 innings.

It was the 32-year-old left hander's seventh century in 28 Test innings and once again underlined his immense value to the Australian top order.

He put on 125 runs for the fourth wicket with Michael Clarke, who later fell to an acrobatic catch by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene down the leg-side off Malinga for 71.

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