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Another Clarke ton steers Australia at MCG
By Greg Buckle
19:05 AEST Thu Dec 27 2012

Australian captain Michael Clarke started 2012 with a triple-hundred on his home ground at the SCG and he has ended it with another special moment by scoring a record-breaking 106 at the MCG.

Australia reached 8-440 at stumps on day two of the second Test against Sri Lanka on Thursday to hold a first-innings lead of 284 with two wickets in hand.

Clarke pushed his tally of Test runs for the year to 1595 runs at a Bradmanesque average of 106.33, passing Ricky Ponting's Australian record of 1544 set in 2005.

It was Clarke's fifth hundred in 2012 and first at the MCG.

But ever the team man, Clarke's attention is focused on tailender Mitchell Johnson who will resume day three on 73 not out as he chases his second Test hundred.

The skipper, who batted superbly despite suffering a hamstring strain in last week's first Test win in Hobart, struck 14 boundaries off 187 deliveries.

Shane Watson (83) and Clarke added 194 for the fourth wicket before falling in consecutive overs.

"It's nice to get that monkey off my back, to get my first hundred here," Clarke said.

"I've always loved playing cricket at the MCG.

"In regards to beating Ricky, in my eyes he's certainly the greatest batsmen I was lucky enough to play with.

"To beat any record that Ricky holds is very special."

Clarke said he felt no pain during his four-hour innings.

"I was pretty lucky batting with 'Watto'. We were both pretty slow out there," Clarke joked.

"Numbers have never really bothered me too much. It's nice to be making runs and leading by example.

"But to me, it's about winning games.

"In regards to my form, it's about enjoying this time and make the most of it because there's going to come a time where I'm going to nick the first few and have a couple of ducks beside my name."

Clarke fell at 4-311 and Watson holed out to the leg-side boundary two runs later.

It was yet another near-miss for Watson whose 38-Test career has included two hundreds and 19 half-centuries.

Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (one) also holed out with a hook shot as Australia lost 3-4.

The short, stocky spinner Rangana Herath took a spectacular diving catch in his left thumb and forefinger at long-on to dismiss Mike Hussey for 34 at 7-376 after adding 61 with Johnson.

Peter Siddle (13) shared a valuable stand of 58 with Johnson.

Herath, the leading wicket-taker in Tests in 2012, bowled without luck and conceded 0-95 from his 39 overs. Pacemen Dhammika Prasad (3-102) and Shaminda Eranga (2-106) worked hard on a flat track.

Clarke was dropped on five, missed at first slip on 83 and also gave a stumping chance on 54, while Watson was dropped on five and 58.

Opening bowler Chanaka Welegedara left the field with a right-hamstring injury during the pre-lunch session on day two and their regular wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene suffered a fractured thumb while batting on day one.

Australia, who lead the three-match series one-nil, had resumed on 3-150 after bowling Sri Lanka out for 156.


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