England trail Australia by 535 runs with nine first-innings wickets in hand after day two of the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.
A century-maker in the first two Ashes Tests, Australian captain Michael Clarke is making a good start in his bid to make this summer the defining series of his career.
Clarke’s stylish 148, his fourth Test ton for 2013, has put Australia in a position to push for victory or at least have the upper hand in a drawn Adelaide encounter.
England will resume on Saturday’s third day on a flat batting track on 1-35 in reply to Australia’s first innings of 9(dec)-570.
England’s debutant allrounder Ben Stokes has admitted keeping Australia’s bowlers out in the field for long periods in the match would be some kind of victory at least, as the third Test in Perth starts on December 13.
Clarke has topped 1000 runs in the calendar year for the fourth time and second year in a row, helping himself to a sixth Adelaide hundred and 26 in total.
His 31 matches as captain have included 12 centuries.
Clarke shared a sixth-wicket stand of 200 with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin (118), putting the foot to England’s throat as the tourists fumbled badly in the field.
“Since Michael has taken over, his batting has gone to another level,” Haddin said.
“He loves batting at this ground. He averages over 100 here.”
Haddin said he felt Clarke was the best batsman in the game.
“Once he gets past 20, he seems to go on and get some really big hundreds,” Haddin said.
“His form over the last two years has been as good as anyone in the world.”
A profitable day for Australia could have been even better.
England captain Alastair Cook (three) was bowled by first-Test hero Mitchell Johnson who produced a delivery Haddin labelled a cracker.
Michael Carberry was 20 not out at stumps with Joe Root on nine.
Carberry was given not out on a lbw shout from Johnson on the final ball of the day.
The ball tracker replay showed the decision would have been overturned if Clarke had asked for a referral.
Haddin said himself, Clarke and the bowler all thought the ball was missing leg stump.
“We haven’t learnt with the DRS by the looks of it,” Haddin grinned.
It was a big day for 36-year-old Haddin who thumped 11 fours and five sixes, notching his fourth Test hundred.
Australia had resumed on 5-273 before Haddin and Clarke clipped 116 runs in the first session to put England on the back foot.
Dropped on 18 and 91, Clarke equalled Ricky Ponting’s mark of six Adelaide tons.
Stuart Broad finished with 3-98 while Stokes took 2-70.
England coughed up three catches on day one, including Haddin on five.
Haddin, on 51, was caught behind off the bowling of Stokes on Friday but the bowler had overstepped the crease.
For England it seems, suddenly a draw is looking a good option despite trailing one-nil in the series.
“It’s only a three-day turnaround after this,” Stokes said.
So the longer they are out there can only benefit us, so we’ve just got to try to get up to that 500 or 600 runs mark.”
“It’s a good batting wicket and, if anyone gets in, we hope they can go big.
“We’ve just got to be up for the fight and hope we can overcome whatever he (Johnson) chucks down.”