Clarke's Test hundred propels Aussies toward declaration

Published: Sunday, June 1, 2008, 1:18 [IST]
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Michael Clarke collected his seventh Test hundred to allow Australia the luxury of making a declaration at tea in the second Test against West Indies on Saturday.

Clarke became the second Aussie batsman to complete a hundred, when he cracked 110 to lift the visitors to a formidable 479 for seven declared in their first innings on the second day of the Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

Clarke reached his landmark, when he drove Daren Powell straight down the ground for the last of his 12 boundaries. His hundred followed an innings of 113 from left-handed opener Simon Katich.

The Australia vice-captain rallied the lower-order before he was caught at forward square leg off Powell, when he miscued a hook at a short, rising delivery.

When he departed, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson continued to give West Indies agony, when they blitzed the home team bowling to add 65 - unbroken - for the eighth wicket.

Both benefited from sloppy West Indies fielding that saw Fidel Edwards floor Lee on 28 at mid-on off Sammy, the same bowler who suffered when Dwayne Bravo dropped Johnson on 15 at deep extra cover.

Clarke batted with aplomb from the time he arrived at the crease about 45 minutes before the scheduled close the previous evening.

He stroked the ball with crisp assurance with his classical driving, particularly through the arc between extra cover and mid-off, where he has gathered the majority of his runs.

He'd reached his 50, when he caressed a delivery from Jerome Taylor to mid-off and scrambled a single before lunch.

The innings has been all the more remarkable, considering he arrived in the Caribbean two weeks later than the rest of the squad, after he was granted compassionate leave to attend the funeral of the father of his fiancee.

But Clarke had a huge slice of fortune, when wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin dropped him on 63 down the leg-side, and he made sure West Indies were to rue that miss.

Clarke anchored Australia through the morning period to 360 for five at lunch, although the visitors lost the wickets of century-maker Simon Katich and Andrew Symonds.

Katich was caught down the leg-side, when he feathered his 248th delivery from Taylor in the same over that Clarke reached his half-century.

Andrew Symonds arrived and looked set to play in much the same style that he did in the opening Test, but he tried to glance a delivery from Edwards and was also caught down the leg-side for 18.

Brad Haddin joined Clarke and they added 64 either side of lunch before a slower delivery from Taylor deceived him and he was caught at extra cover for 33 to leave Australia 360 for six.

Lee came to crease and they continued to build on the platform of the earlier batsmen, as West Indies wilted under the pressure before a fatigued Clarke lost his wicket.

Australia lead the three-Test series 1-0, after they completed a 95-run victory in the opening Test last Monday at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Australia have now won 13 of the last 14 Tests they have contested against West Indies and need only a draw to secure their hold on the Frank Worrell Trophy - symbol of Test supremacy against West Indies. The Aussies have not lost a Test series in the Caribbean since 1991.

The third and final Test between the two sides starts on June 12 at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

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