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  • Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 1st day

Clarke double-ton deflates South Africa

The Report by Brydon Coverdale
November 22, 2012
Australia 482 for 5 (Clarke 224*, Warner 119, Hussey 103) v South Africa
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Another day, another Michael Clarke double-century © Getty Images
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Pwnage. That's the only word for it. Either that or Michael Clarke has been playing in god mode. How else could one explain Clarke scoring his fourth Test double-century this year, a feat that nobody, not even Bradman, has ever achieved? How else could Australia have piled on 482 runs, the most they have managed in a day of Test cricket since 1910? But this was no video game. Graeme Smith couldn't switch off and start over, no matter how much he wanted to.

Clarke finished the afternoon unbeaten on 224. That's two innings in this series for two double-hundreds. David Warner struck a highly entertaining 119 earlier in the day, at better than a run a ball. Michael Hussey scored his second consecutive century, an innings that ended only when he played on to Dale Steyn from what became the last ball of the day for 103. If that wasn't enough for South Africa, they also spent most of the day one bowler short after Jacques Kallis left the field in the first session with a hamstring injury.

Kallis was in his fourth over when he pulled up while running in to bowl. He already had two wickets. That Australia's monumental performance came after they stumbled to 3 for 55 was remarkable enough, but the most notable aspect of their day was the rate at which they scored. They finished with a run-rate of 5.55. They struck 66 fours and nine sixes, helped by the short boundaries square of the wicket, but also by some insipid South African bowling, especially from the legspinner Imran Tahir.

Tahir just couldn't land the ball where he needed to. On the occasions that he did, he built no pressure because the next delivery was likely to give the batsman a release. He finished the day with 0 for 159 from 21 overs, reminiscent of Bryce McGain's horrid analysis in his Cape Town debut in 2009. But one thing to say about McGain is that he didn't once overstep; Tahir's effort was punctuated by five no-balls, unforgivable for a slow bowler.

Against Clarke, Hussey and Warner, he didn't have a hope. The Australians racked up 202 runs in the final session. As stumps approached, Hussey brought up his hundred from his 122nd ball with a slog-swept six off Tahir; the previous delivery Clarke had reached his double-century from his 226th ball with a nudge behind square for a single. It was the 82nd over of the innings. Smith could have already taken the second new ball, but instead he took it in the next over. Go figure.

It was one of those days where, after the first hour, nothing went right for South Africa. Steyn left the field with hamstring tightness, although he was at least able to return late in the day to remove Hussey. The prognosis for Kallis is unlikely to be good, and the South Africans had already lost Vernon Philander, who woke up with back soreness and was replaced in the line-up by Rory Kleinveldt.

In truth, it didn't much matter who was bowling, the way Clarke and Co were batting. Morne Morkel, who picked up two wickets earlier in the day, could not contain Clarke once he was well set. Clarke took 20 runs off one over from Morkel, driving down the ground, cutting hard, and bringing up his 150 with the fifth boundary from the over, a majestic straight drive. Clarke also pulled with confidence; after a couple of early bouncers rattled him, he was untroubled by the short stuff.

South Africa created few opportunities as the day wore on. On 64, Hussey was given out caught behind off Morkel, but asked for a review and Hot Spot showed no touch on the bat, giving him a reprieve. On 73, Clarke had edged Kleinveldt, but the ball flew between the two slips. Nothing was going the South Africans' way.

The Clarke-Hussey partnership was worth 272. They had come together after Warner, on 119 from 112 balls, edged Morkel to slip. Warner had done his job. He brought up his century from 93 balls with a six and a four off Tahir, a clean drive back down the ground and over the rope, followed by a confident cover-drive through the gap.

As he had done all innings, Warner trusted his attacking style, flashing at anything wide and enjoying the short square boundaries - he struck 16 fours. He also enjoyed some garbage from Tahir and Faf du Plessis straight after lunch, as both men sent down full tosses that he dispatched over the boundary. Those overs undid any of the pressure South Africa had built in the first session.

Kallis had been very impressive with the ball during his short spell, removing Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting by attacking the base of the stumps. On 10, Cowan was beaten by a Kallis yorker that struck him on the toe and at first appeared to have been given out lbw by Billy Bowden, but it later became apparent that he was caught and bowled. After the ball hit Cowan's foot, it ballooned off the bat straight back to Kallis, and under the laws of the game, a catch takes precedence over lbw in deciding how a batsman has been dismissed.

Kallis also accounted for Ponting with an outstanding delivery that was full and accurate, and swung away from the bat just enough to beat Ponting, who suffered the indignity not only of being bowled but of falling onto the pitch on his hands and knees after trying to keep the ball out. Ponting avoided another duck but only just - his only scoring shot was a clip for four off his pads.

In between the dismissals of Cowan and Ponting, the No.3 Rob Quiney fell for an eight-ball duck when Morkel came around the wicket and forced Quiney to play a ball on off stump. Quiney's edge was well snapped up by Smith at slip and after his 9 in his only innings at the Gabba, Quiney was left hoping desperately that he would get another chance in this, his second Test

But South Africa rued the loss of Kallis and Australia dominated the rest of the day. South Africa were pwned.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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