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Clarke,Warner and Hussey plunder quick runs against South Africa

Michael Clarke of Australia celebrates as he reaches his double century during day one of the 2nd Test match between Australia and South Africa at Adelaide Oval

Are these the signs of the things to come or a minor change to the pattern in which Test matches are generally played? 5.55 runs per over for 86.5 overs says either two things, amazing batting or substandard bowling. At the Adelaide Oval, Australia batted audaciously and South Africa bowled a lot of freebies which saw the home team post 482 runs in a day. Sir Don Bradman’s relentless feats as a batsman have set unprecedented levels for batsman: An average of 99.94, 12 double hundreds are just a few of the marvellous records notched up by Bradman. Michael Clarke is registered his fourth double century this year- a record which even Bradman hasn’t achieved. While ‘Bradmansque’ is a term used to define Bradman-like form, a term ‘Clarkesque’ might well be used to gauge future batsman’s form in a season, may be after he retires.

Clarke finished unbeaten on 224 at the end of day one in the second Test match against South Africa at the Adelaide Oval. If Clarke manages to add-on 76 more runs to his overnight score, he will become the first batsman to score two-triple hundreds in one calendar year.

South Africa is currently ranked number one in Test match cricket, but today their bowling looked quite ordinary. Well not until the home team- Australia was reeling at three down for 55 runs. Jacques Kallis picked up a couple of wickets, but he pulled up a muscle in his fourth over. From there on Australia began to script an amazing counterattack.

In the past few days, the Australian selection conundrum was on the view when David Warner’s place was questioned by a few people. Warner attacked the South African bowling often playing the shots that he would normally play in coloured clothing. It took him just two deliveries to reach from 90 to 100, a six straight down the ground and then a powerful cover drive for a boundary off leg-spinner Imran Tahir.

Tahir was taken for 159 runs off his 21 overs. The ball just did not land where he wanted to. He did beat Clarke in pace and ball thudded onto Australian skipper’s pads. There was a loud appeal which went in the favour of the batsman. The decision was reviewed and the decision was upheld. That was the only thing Tahir could be proud of on day one- he beat a batsman who is batting like a God. Tahir bowled short, full and even dished out full-tosses.

The final session of play was the most entertaining one. The South Africans might disagree though.  As many as 202 runs were added in that session of play. The only wicket fell on the last ball of the day, when Hussey failed to judge Dale Steyn’s out-swinger. Hussey played no shot and lost his stumps, but not before he scored his second century in as many matches in the on-going series.

Clarke and Hussey ransacked the South African attack. Graeme Smith, the South African skipper, could do very little seeing the way some of his bowlers were bowling. The batsmen were always one-upping whatever the bowlers came up with. Tahir started bowling a leg-stump line mid-way into the session to Clarke. The policy was to contain Clarke, but instead the Australian captain took on Tahir. Clarke danced down the tracked and played the inside-out shot, used a cut shot and compounded South Africa’s agony further. Earlier in the day, Morne Morkel tried to bounce out Clarke, but the ball went over mid-wicket. In the final session Clarke hit Morkel for five boundaries in one over- a powerful cut and impressive straight drives just dampened the visitors’ spirits. The strategies employed by captain, Smith and the bowlers were nipped in the bud by Clarke and also Hussey.

Hussey looked compact and aggressive. He hit four sixes in his innings of 103. He added 272 for the fifth wicket with Clarke, which was brought in quick time as well. Clarke brought up his double hundred when he nudged the ball to square-leg off Tahir. Hussey hit a six over mid-wicket off the very next ball to bring up his hundred. The crowd cheered the loudest during those couple of minutes when Clarke and Hussey reached their milestones.

Kallis earlier bowled the ball of the day to dismiss Ricky Ponting. The ball was full and it swung a way at the last moment which disturbed Ponting’s stumps and his balance as well. The former Australian captain fell on the ground.

Rob Quiney registered another failure when he was out for a duck. He edged a Morkel delivery to the first slip, where Smith pouched an easy catch. It will be interesting to see if the selectors persist with the out-of-form Quiney anymore.

The centurion from the last match, Ed Cowan,was out caught and bowled off Kallis. The yorker surprised Cowan and brought about his downfall. Kallis was dearly missed by South Africa when the assault from Australia became one of the greatest cricketing spectacles we have seen in a while.

Which fool says that Test cricket is dying? This one day of Test cricket might just be signs for the things to come: action-packed, exhilarating and certainly not boring.

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